#Unstoppable. This is how Victoria Pelletier describes herself. How exactly does one become unstoppable? To Victoria, it’s all about personal brand. She may be working for Accenture, but she is not Accenture. She is Victoria Pelletier, and she is going to take that brand wherever she goes. We can’t all be like Victoria, but we can get pretty darn close! Learn how as she joins this episode of Preventing Brandslaughter to share her perspective on personal branding. This conversation is going to impart a lot of value, whether you’re an entrepreneur or working in corporate. Make sure to tune in and get ready to level up your personal brand and your professional career!
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In this episode, we are very excited to have Victoria Pelletier with us. Jon’s here with us too. First off, we want to jump in and learn more about you, Victoria and who you are. It’s always more interesting for people to hear firsthand who you are and what you’re about. Give us a little background on yourself.
I’m happy to. Thanks for having me here. I’m happy to be chatting with you both. I use a word that people often ask me to explain to them in describing myself and that is multi-potentialite. I use that because it means I have a ton of different passions and interests. You will see that as it relates to what I do for work and money but also what I do for fun, passion and the impact I want to have.
I am a career-long corporate executive. I got promoted to a C-Suite role in my early twenties as a brand new mother, which was a big stretch role for me and has stayed predominantly operating at that level, running markets or business units predominantly for Fortune 500 companies. I have also built and bought businesses.
A strong entrepreneurial blood runs through me as well not only within the big corporates but in the work that I do on the side as a side hustle. I sit on a number of boards, both not-for-profits and for-profit boards. I’m a professional public speaker. I’ve been speaking for many years purely for business purposes at conferences and then it switched years ago to doing that professionally as well where I get paid to do those.
There’s this intersection between what I do for work but also the things I’m passionate about around leadership, culture, diversity and inclusion. I’m a wife and a mother. I was joking with Jon before we got started. I’m a hockey player. You’ll hear a tiny bit of an accent. I’m originally from Canada. I keep getting further South from Toronto to New York to South Florida.
It’s amazing that she can jam that all in the first minute and a half of the intro. That’s amazing, first off. That’s such a mountain of work and stuff that you do on a regular basis. Is there any pecking order in that stuff or maybe there’s a natural gravitation towards some of it more than others to be a necessity of higher priority? As a parent, sometimes that comes before other stuff even when we have other stuff we’d prefer to be doing in the moment. Where do you see yourself now versus in the past maybe spending the bulk of your time?
I made a choice to have my children quite young. I became an empty nester. My younger one who graduated high school in 2022 is taking a gap year and decided to move with my older son. The two of them are out of the house so that doesn’t fill up as much of my time. They still need me in a very different way although they’re on the payroll. That’s the kind of need that they need me a little bit more of sometimes.
The majority of my time is the corporate day job. I often get asked whether I would want to shift and do my public speaking. I do a very minute amount of coaching, almost by referral only. I talk a lot about the things that bring me joy. If those became my full-time job, I don’t think I would want to do or I wouldn’t enjoy it quite as much.
I love the complexity of working for these large companies and running large business units. I’ve been prominently business-to-business. That in itself creates complexity in that you’ve got multiple constituents you serve, not only the shareholders and the companies you work for but the clients that write the check to your company, whether you’re supporting their employees or customers. I like big, hairy, meaty problems and I get that in my day job. That’s where the majority of my time gets spent. All of the other fills in. I have a saying that where there’s conviction, there’s capacity. I make time for what I want to do. Certainly, the corporate day job pays the bills and is where I spend the majority of the time.
Jon and I relate very heavily to your approach or at least your enjoyment of what you do go for. I consider myself quite the variety junkie. That was the reason I got out of Corporate America originally. It ate up so much of my time. You could say I’m in Corporate America anyway because Jon and I serve in the company we own. I want more variety.
We got into outsourcing. That was why I stayed in it. I was like, “I didn’t know anything about call centers and stuff.” What I loved about the aspect of the industry was I wasn’t working in one business. We were working with 10, 15 or 20 large companies at a time and then being able to work with them in so many different capacities. I love learning about companies and people too. I get that vibe from you as well.
That’s amazing that you’ve been able to position yourself in life to be able to do that. I can relate to having family members on the payroll too. I have a daughter that’s in college. She was communicating with you. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing. You’re in Corporate America but could you share a little bit about what the majority of your time is and what you’re working on or passionate about at the moment?
I’m about to start a transition but I can tell you what I’ve been working on these last couple of years. I’ve been working for Accenture. It is a large consulting, technology and outsourcing company. I was initially recruited to be a part of their CEO and board transformation practice. That’s working with CEOs and their direct reports and board members on what I’d call the intersection of transformation, whether that’s an acquisition, a digital transformation or a reorganization. It is the intersection of their personal leadership and culture as an outcome of all the things that they need to be practicing.
I was recruited for that but there are a few industries I know fairly well. One is financial services. The other is travel. I spent a decade running corporate travel businesses. I lead their travel and hospitality portfolio across North America. I will be transitioning out and then I’m going to go back to a smaller organization. Ideally, there are a few opportunities that I’m exploring. I haven’t yet progressed them far enough to make a decision and some new ones have popped up so we’ll see.
I like taking usually distressed businesses or markets and turning them around. I’ve been a part of eighteen mergers and acquisitions in my career. I do a lot of work around transformation, synergies and reorganization. As you both are in the world of outsourcing, that’s where my career started when I got recruited out of my first company out of college where I became the COO for an outsourcing contact center company.
Do you know our pain?
I know it deeply. I do.
When you’re stepping in and doing these transformations, going through the M&A process and helping transition 1 team in and 1 team out and you had 18 over the course of your career, what are some of those common trends that you’re seeing within organizations that are table stake level one error that can be easily fixed but for whatever reason, they were not? It was that if they would’ve made those changes, it may have changed the outcome or trajectory of their company.
A few of them. One is around the change management approach itself. I find far too many companies that have project management teams internally and they think that they can handle it. They’re like, “I’ve got a project management office or a PMO office. We can do it.” This is substantially different. A lot of it has to do with people and the challenge of getting people on board through the change and the communication that’s required. That’s one.
Before Accenture, I worked for IBM and did large-scale transformations. I remember saying to one of our leaders, “If we’re not personally helping handle the change management, then we need to increase our contingency in terms of how much it’s going to cost and/or the service level agreements we’re going to commit to because so much of it is out of our hands.” The change management piece is a significant piece of that. The other is around communication-related to change management.
Those at the top leading it need to be in front of why we’ve made the decisions we’ve made. Let’s not kid ourselves. There’s an expectation that there’s going to be synergy in bringing companies together. Therefore, people, processes and technology are going to change. Let’s be transparent about that upfront. What we can share, let’s share that so people feel confident and trust in our ability. What we don’t know, let’s also put our hands up and say, “I don’t know what I don’t know but I want to bring you on the bus to help us on that journey and let us learn from you.” That’s particularly when you’re the company being acquired to get them on board with that.
From my experience at least, I’ve seen a lot of that laissez-faire leadership style within what we call the mid-level or the Fortune 5 enterprise companies where they’ve reached that arrival period where they’ve hit the apex of where their business is and disconnected. They put some leaders in place that may not have been the right fit and didn’t articulate the why or the vision of the organization. They leave it to the team to create that vision. Most of the time, it doesn’t align with the core values of the company which creates turmoil and all kinds of issues within the organization. I agree with that.
With what you’re doing with these companies in the last couple of years, one of the things that pop to my mind is the impacts of COVID, virtualization and pivoting along with the struggle of diversity, culture and the struggle that a lot of organizations have around Gen Z and Millennial type of retention as well. Those are monstrous challenges that a lot of companies are struggling with. What’s been your experience with that? What have you seen? What are your thoughts on it?
Prior to coming to Accenture, for IBM, I ran a client-facing business in the Americas that was related to the function of HR, the workforce and the way companies needed to look at their talent. I spent a lot of time, particularly with CHROs, the heads of HR or the people function, talking about what this looked like. It was a combination of when COVID hit, “What does remote working look like? How do we keep our employees engaged?” That hybrid way of working is going to continue but it’s finding that optimal mix. They’re still trying to figure that out, quite frankly.
The other piece that I saw, the shift, was around less of a focus on job titles and functions broadly and looking more discreetly at skills. Every company, whether you’re in technology formally or not, is a technology company. With technology, we need to enable our employees to deliver to our customers. There is an expectation and COVID exacerbated that for this consumer-grade experience or the Amazon experience that we all used heavily during that timeframe.Every company is a technology company. Click To Tweet
Everyone’s needing to transform. We have to look at skills much more discreetly and do this analysis of, “What do we have now? What skills do we have to meet the demands and meet our strategy for delivery now and then marry it with our 3 and 5-year strategic plans in terms of growth of products or services and market share and figure out what skill we need for the future?”
You then have to build a strategy over how you’re going to build a bridge to that. Some of that’s going to come through automation and some of that’s going to come through outsourcing but are you going to build the talent? As you talk about generationally, who’s got the propensity to learn? Therefore, let’s invest in growing it from within and not lose the institutional knowledge versus having to go and buy it. Those are where I find a lot of leaders are looking.
We see that quite a bit too. When we look at “brandslaughter”, one of the challenges that the executives and the leadership teams that we come in contact with is they may not connect the dot for talent selection or talent placement. You may pick a great person but they may not be the right person for that position based on skills. To your point, we did see that big time. That jumped way up.
I went from being able to get away with a lot of inadequacies in my position if I was in-person or managing a department in-person or where it may be to all of a sudden, my technical skills went up dramatically. I had to be far more analytical in my approach to the business. I had to be far more technically sound to manage the business. We’ve seen that as a disconnect.
How much of the conversation that you’ve had with them around that and with other people that maybe you’re working with is around, “This is a form of what can kill the brand?” Most people think of brandslaughter as like, “I put an ad out that we shouldn’t have.” That’s not it. That’s not what we talk about. It’s a lot of this stuff where you’re well-intended but without looking, adjusting, evolving or bringing somebody in like you who says, “I’m going to look at this through a different lens and give you good feedback on how you should position things,” you’re going to end up doing something that you feel good about that’s going to tear down your business internally and therefore externally.
I see that a lot. It’s because there tends to be this myopic focus on certain things, in this case. If they are focused on skill, that’s great but I refer a lot to this responsible level of leadership, which is looking at multifaceted areas of leadership in the business. There is some data that I’ve seen as well as research over the last number of years where when you look at the various stakeholders in the business so shareholders and, let’s say, executives, it’s so heavily skewed towards technology and skills that they miss on the other dimensions that are very important to their employees.
In this case, things like the mission and impact of the organization are looking at the purpose. How do you connect the purpose of the organization to the purpose of the individual and the work they do? It’s very different generationally. You look at the newer generation of workers. If you were to map out these skill levels, it’s heavily skewed.
There is this vision that I have of this pictorial where tech is at the bottom. From an executive standpoint, they’re focused there but then you see the skew off to the right, which is where employees tend to want to see, particularly the newer level of employees. That’s where I see a lot of the brandslaughter happening where there’s a finite focus or myopic focus on skills and bringing that in without making sure it’s connected to the organizational purpose, vision, mission and the impact that the individual can have.
Too many companies will hire for the skill and miss on the core value and the why behind the vision of the company to align with that individual before they come into the organization. They can have all the talent in the world and be able to execute excellently but if their mindset, their attitude and their why as an individual don’t align with the why of the company, it’s not going to work out. Leading into that, I’ve seen it personally but have you seen a shift in the last couple of years where that’s more of a central focus for employees to be more bought into the vision of the organization rather than being bought into the role or to a smaller degree, the compensation of the role that they’re coming into?
Absolutely. I’ve seen, even in the work that I’ve been doing, companies who are going through an exercise to more clearly articulate the stated purpose so that everyone is on the same page. That’s particularly for some of these larger companies that have multiple companies in their portfolio to make sure there is some commonality across it but also because then it connects down even for the consumer. Its macro starts at the top around it. It is connected to employees but also ultimately should be connected to the customers and why they’re buying.
COVID is one of the things that accelerated a lot of this work. We were seeing it before but seeing it much more as we were stuck in our homes working for a number of years and there was no separation. That became so important for employees to work for companies that they felt alignment with and buy from companies as well. As leaders, our role is to recognize there’s still a bit of a paradox for some people. We’ll buy gourmet dog food for our dogs. Yet, we’ll still go to McDonald’s for ourselves. It is recognizing that the paradox is still going to exist.
We were talking about that at home. We’re like, “The kids are wanting to eat garbage and the dogs are eating better than they are.” We try not to buy then that stuff. I do want to dive into a few other parts of your world that are cool. You’re an author, a keynote speaker and a corporate leader. One of the things that popped off when I saw some information on you was the information about wife, mom and corporate executive. I’m assuming that may be in a specific order for a reason or maybe not.
I’m a father of three girls. I have 1 boy and 3 girls. I’m always looking at women who are extremely successful women who have a voice. They’re carrying a message to other young women and maybe even older women but women in general of what they can be and what they can do. I picked up on some of that with you and I feel like that’s part of your mission too. It is to wave that flag and say, “Look at what you can accomplish if you put your passion to work and things like that.” Could you share a little bit about that part of your heart and work?
I have two hashtags that I sign a lot of my social media posts off with. The first is #Unstoppable because that is my mantra. It happens to be the title of a book that I co-authored. It’s how I live. The other is #NoExcuses, which drives my children insane but that is how I lead my life. If you want to understand my why and where my drive comes from, I have extremely difficult early beginnings. I was born to a drug-addicted teenage mother who beat me. I was fortunate I was removed from her care. I was adopted into a loving family although my parents that adopted me were lower socioeconomically. My dad was a janitor and my mom was a secretary.#NoExcuses Click To Tweet
My mom was the one that raised me. My mom said to me at one point, “You need to do better than us. She, vocationally, made sure I got that education. She didn’t have to tell me that because I was determined to be better than biology or the circumstance. That’s my why. As a result of that and my lower socioeconomic status, I started working at age eleven. I worked in a hair salon. At fourteen, I was the assistant manager in the shoe store where I worked at. I worked throughout the university.
That’s in part why, at 24, I got recruited out of the banking environment I worked at, which were contact centers, running out large operations in that environment to be the COO of a BPO company or an outsourcing organization. My why, I tell people it’s a big part of what changed my speaking from being pure conference-based, business-based to much more open in doing it and sharing my story in terms of that’s what drove me. I was not going to let anything hold me back nor anyone tell me no.
I share that but I also talk about the lessons I had to learn along the way. I made some pretty big missteps and failures. A lot of what I speak to is recognizing that you can have it all, not always at the same time. There are compromises and tradeoffs we make, particularly when we talk about being parents and what that means in that dynamic at home.
There are a lot of things that I wish my twenty-something-year-old self knew. I love to share that to particularly women because we are still 60 years away from having pay equity in North America. Only 53 of the Fortune 500 companies are female CEOs. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. To the extent that I can as I’ve risen, I want to pull those with me as I rise.
You do speaking with that. Your book, Unstoppable or at least the book you are a contributing author to and wrote a full whole chapter about, was something about your story, specifically around some of the stuff you overcame. Congratulations because those are stories that are encouraging to us and others. They’re your why. It’s awesome that you’ve been courageous enough to share that story along with it.
A lot of C-Suite individuals have a tendency to shy away from potentially the darker sides of their upbringing or their background, although we all have them. It shows people they can still be real and transparent. You weren’t just born as a CEO or a COO. You didn’t have it handed to you. You were like, “I started here. These are the things I did. These are my whys as to how I overcame those things.” Are you looking to take that up to the next level?
I have conversations with my girls a lot about this. In this world, because of social media, at least if you engage in it, you’re out there. You immediately have a brand whether you like it or not. Jon and I say this all the time. Marketing is what you say about yourself. Branding is what other people say about you when you’re not around. What you’re putting out there creates a brand. It may not be the brand you’re intending. You may be creating brandslaughter at an early age.
Is there any of that that you speak to or that you have a philosophy on when you’re looking at that and saying, “If we’re all honest, there’s a perception of any type of person?” Sometimes, those perceptions in Corporate America have to be overcome, to your point, where we’re still battling that thing where there’s equity. How does that get built into your conversations and speaking?
When I give talks about my career journey, I will share my why. Let’s not be mistaken. I am driven because of what I’ve overcome and that propels me to be a better version of myself all the time. I also talk about beyond that, there are things that I attribute my career success to. Certainly, performing and improving my skills is a big element of that. The ability to create boundaries for me is another. That level of resilience goes back to the early years.
The fourth one I spend a lot of time talking about is personal brand. I agree with you. Perception is reality. What I coach people to is you do need to curate the message and be incredibly consistent and relevant to the audience. Connect it back to the brand. Sometimes, you have to pivot. In my case, because I was the only woman and the youngest executive by a couple of decades when I first moved into that exec role, I showed up in a way at work that I thought I had to. There was zero vulnerability. I wasn’t going to let you see that I was vulnerable and emotional and had any baggage behind me.When it comes to personal brand, perception is reality. You need to curate your message. You need to be incredibly consistent and relevant to your audience. And sometimes you have to pivot. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, I got a nickname as the Iron Maiden. You know in running contact centers or outsourcing that if you’re not on your A game or managing performance, you lose money. I could do that through some of these M&A but when I learned that, that crushed me because that’s not who I am innately. My nickname is Turtle. I’m tough exterior but all mushy on the inside. For me, I had to work hard to change people’s perceptions and therefore my brand. It’s been critically important and a big part of my success.
When recruiters reach out to me, a lot of the time, they do it because I am known to be that transformational leader who’s almost maniacally focused on a human-centered leadership that’s authentic and transparent without any trade-off for performance. My brand is what gets me roles or clients who want to work with me or even potentially get me on stage so I can share this story with the organizers of other events.
I don’t think there’s a time we should be waiting for. I told my son, the older one, “You have to be working on it now.” He doesn’t like LinkedIn. He thinks that’s for old people. I’m like, “That’s where everyone is.” It’s important to start it. You can pivot and change as you grow or make mistakes but it’s important.
I had the same conversation with Peyton not too long ago. She was like, “LinkedIn, that’s all business people.” I’m like, “Fortunately or unfortunately, whichever you’re going to look at it, that’s where it’s all happening. You’ve got to participate and then choose how you want to participate and how you want people to show your expertise or show who you are. It’s an interesting juggling act of expressing who you are as a person and what you can do as a professional. It’s an interesting look at doing that.”
One of the more powerful things that are great with your story and what you’re doing is that when I hear you talking about your whole life journey. You call it your why, which there were some things that happened but you’ve leveraged the skillset of overcoming and transforming your life into helping other people, entities and businesses do the same. I’ve always found the biomechanics of that are very similar. There’s not a huge jump.
I’m a recovering addict and an alcoholic. Years ago, I had to start life all over again and say, “Fundamentally, how do I overcome this? What are the best practices I need to put in place?” Once I got myself right, I realized these principles that I’ve learned are principles I can apply in business, management, finances and everything else. That’s great you’re able to transition that. Is there any one thing that you always say, “If I could only teach somebody one thing,” or if you gave me one minute with somebody and I had to teach them one thing, what would that one thing be? What would that nugget of wisdom be?
Be incredibly authentic and that means many things, though. That is sharing your lived experience to the extent that one’s comfortable. Not everyone needs to be as open as you or I might be around that but be authentic. What are your desires? Where do you want to get to? Even from a career perspective, it is having that open dialogue with others and putting it out there so that hopefully, they’re going to help you with it.
For those who choose to be in leadership positions, that ability to be incredibly authentic means being transparent and vulnerable. It has changed the followership I’ve had and people who want to go through the proverbial fire with me as a result. Therefore, we have business success together. That was something I was so afraid of, being authentic and my real self and letting people in and see the cracks and all. It probably wasn’t until my 30s that I started to do that much more. Since then, it has opened up the world to me. That’s the message I would be telling people as early as possible.Those who choose to be in leadership positions need to be incredibly authentic. And that means being really transparent and vulnerable. Click To Tweet
I get excited when I hear people say that. I look at that and go, “That’s no different for a business.” It connects to authenticity. As an organization, if your leaders in the business itself can be authentic to who it is, then what we call brand devotees attach themselves to that. They connect with it in some way that’s bigger than a cheeseburger, a widget, a cup of coffee or whatever it is.
When you look at the work you’ve done, is there one project, one company or whatever it may be that you look at and you’re like, “This is the one that was the coolest transition?” It was one of those things that were picture-perfect and you were like, “I couldn’t have dreamed it up any cooler than it went.” If so, can you share a little bit about it?
I’m the type who likes to break things to put them back together again.
Maybe that fits your model. When I say picture perfect, it’s ideal for what you love to do. It’s not perfect in the sense that it went perfect but perfect in the sense that, “If I could recreate this 100 times and do it with different people, I would.”
I will protect the guilty and not say who it is. There was one organization I worked for that I came in and was told that I broke the model. The challenge with a lot of these professional services organizations is the incentive model. It drives crappy behavior and therefore not a lot of teaming a lot of times. I voice a lot around the need for us to marry our incentive models, going back to purpose. It doesn’t mean you need to trade off for performance. There was one where I went in and it was so broken.
There were lots of different service lines, parts and things that this one company sold and trying to bring it all together. We were representing a very large client portfolio that didn’t buy in that way. What I did is I shifted the total model and said, “I’ve got people from each of these lines. I’m going to align them the way our client is aligned because that’s the way they think. That’s the way they will buy.” They will build trusted relationships without trying to sell whatever it is their product or service line that they were selling. It meant I needed to change, interestingly, the incentive and compensation models.
As a leader, I would move credit around to make sure that happened. I said, “We win or we lose as a team.” I was proud of that because I had a team that was excited to be a part of it. It was a turnaround portfolio so not everyone would’ve wanted to be a part of that but given that we were looking to do things a little differently.
Others around the organization, large companies, said I was breaking the model and doing that. For me, I was proud. We had great success and were able to turn that around. I said that it was going to be an 18 to 24-month turnaround. Within about fifteen months, we had done it. That’s something I’m proud of and I will want to recreate it if I have the opportunity or the need to in the future.
It’s great because it’s a challenge that we’ve come across with a number of people when you look at incentives. We always joke a lot of people go into what we call crack incentives. It’s where you give them a little sprinkle of something. It sparks some interest or activity momentarily and then they crash. It’s not sustainable and it’s not driving the behavior and connection that you’re looking for. You don’t know what else to do a lot of times in those situations. Sometimes, it is what it is. You got to do some stuff.
Go back and align things like you’re talking about where you’re saying, “Let’s look at the customer, the employee, the business mission and all these things and align them up because we know when things are aligned, they’re going to work smoother.” It’s going to be stickier. It’s going to be a better situation for all involved because everyone’s working and communicating within that passionate lane of connectivity. That’s cool that you’ve done that because we’ve seen a lot of struggle with that out there. Jon, you’ve talked to I don’t know how many people about that topic in specific.
I’ve always been a fan of incentivizing the habit and not the outcome. If you can get the habit instilled and it becomes concrete, the outcome will come. We also do things a little bit differently. I’d like to say we broke the mold in terms of the outsourcing industry on how we incentivize but this is level-one stuff.Incentivize the habit, not the outcome. If you can get the habit instilled and it becomes concrete, the outcome will come. Click To Tweet
We incentivize based on habit and also on core values. If a peer notices another peer living the core value, they can incentivize and provide that reward. It’s not just, “If my supervisor and my peer see me do it, I can get rewarded as well.” You’re creating that culture of inclusive working together and everybody’s pulling their weight to move the ship forward.
That’s something that most industries are missing the mark on. They’re archaic and antiquated in their ways of operating, including incentives and even recruiting in every other facet of the business. I could dive into another two-hour-long session about that stuff so I’m not going to dive further into it. That’s the type of stuff that I see and look at as I hear the same stuff you heard in the ‘80s and the ‘90s in terms of operational best practices including rewards or incentives.
Do you find that it’s common practice for people to look for that universal silver bullet when it comes to that type of stuff? What I hear you saying when you talk about what you did is, “I used a talent called listening where I went in and said, “What’s the goal? Who and what’s involved? Let me listen to see what motivates, inspires and connects people in this process and then let’s build something that supports and drives that.”
When you’re looking at ICPs, sales and marketing and what we call ideal agent personas and things like that, to me, that’s the big gap in brands and people committing brandslaughter quite a bit. We all get in ivory towers at times. We assume we know what other people want and what fires them up versus asking them and then building something that connects with it. Has that been your experience with it too?
Yeah. It is one of my biggest frustrations in a lot of the companies that I’ve worked for. Most of them are Fortune 100 or 500 companies and publicly traded companies. It is quarter-to-quarter results so there’s a trade-off for the short-term all the time. For me, I say, “Let’s do the right thing.” Particularly, we’re all accountable for sales and revenue. For me, it is listening. I’m like, “We don’t carry around the proverbial toolbox. We’re going to go in, build a relationship with our prospective or current clients and understand what their strategy and pain points are.”
I have the team ask how they are measured. When it comes time to go, “We might have a solution for you. We’re going to deliver these A, B and C things, which is how you’re compensated,” it’s an easier buy or sell. That does come down to listening and going back to authenticity, for me, from a relationship perspective. I’m often asked to go in and meet the C-Suite of our existing clients. I’m not pitching anything. I’m going to have a conversation. I’ll then learn from subsequent conversations because I’ve listened to them and we’ll figure out what kind of solutions can be built.
I found that early in the contact center business, one of the things I found most challenging in the outsourcing world was what you were talking about when it came to clients. I would look at some of the contracts and this is before we started Leading Edge. The drivers in the contracts didn’t align with how you were outsourcing.
One group had one set of motives and drivers that made them profitable or successful. The other group had a different set and the client had a different set. They were very polarized at times, which sets for a highly dysfunctional relationship and an extremely difficult challenge to be successful for both people. It was like, “When this side wins, this side loses.”
I remember being on projects going, “If we can manage to be successful for the client for 6 months and then successful for us for 6 months, it’s enough to keep everybody happy on both sides of the fence,” but I’m thinking, “This is insanity. This is business insanity 101,” versus, “Why don’t we get together and align on what makes each one of us successful? We can translate that down into the teams because they feel it too,” which causes attrition and problems with the external customers. Is that what you’re saying that you’ve seen a lot too?
I have, for sure, given that we’re both in the business-to-business space. There are great books, The Challenger Sale and The Challenger Customer. The customer one talks about the dynamics of the B2B environment. It was published a number of years ago so I’m sure the numbers changed but at that point, they said there are 5.4% decision-makers for every purchase. It is understanding who is a part of that decision cycle.
They’re all driven by very different things. We know what procurement wants in the lowest dollar but the people that own the operations and the customer are measured on something different around their retention, the net promoter scores or satisfaction, their upsell and generating new revenue from them. Those are diametrically opposed generally.
They’re very opposite.
How do you find how to satisfy all of those and come in and show that you’re going to deliver value in something for each of those different buyer types? That goes back to not walking in with a toolkit. You need to be listening to all of these different people and engaging in the relationships ultimately so that they trust you and that you’re going to deliver for them against each of those metrics that make them successful.
I’ll tie it back to authenticity. I go back to when you’re authentic to who you are, you as an individual are able to communicate far more effectively. When you’re able to communicate far more effectively, you can then typically help other people or other businesses in these relationships together to communicate more effectively.
It does go back to what you said, which is being authentic to who you are, having a deep understanding of who you are and being able to communicate that in whatever environment you’re in. It becomes your most powerful foundation for success. Jon, if you have any questions you want to ask, go ahead. I did want to touch on a couple of other things with her around anything she wanted to talk about in the book and then talk a little bit about a couple of things in your keynote speaking. Did you have a question here, Jon?
I’d love another ten hours with Victoria but we’re almost out of time. You can jump in.
What we should have done is had her list out all the things because she’s a variety junkie like us and give us categories and we do a series of shows. We could have done, “Here’s a series on Unstoppable.” We’re going to try to jam it all into an hour and then maybe she’ll be kind enough to come back on again at another time when we can talk more about some other stuff.
What you wrote for that book Unstoppable, it’s got to be cool. I’ve never published anything. First and foremost, congratulations on doing that because that is a neat accomplishment for someone to do. The chapter you wrote is called The Courage to Live. Can you share a little bit about what that is, what that’s about and what the idea was behind contributing to that book?
A friend of mine had been an author for the publishers for a different book and she got us connected. When they came to me, first of all, and said that it was Unstoppable, I’m like, “This is serendipity,” given my philosophy. It was a surprise for me. The publishers made me the opening chapter in the book to set the stage, which was great. It was a little bit of the story that I shared with you and some of the things that I’ve learned about being resilient. That’s what’s in that chapter.
I have plans. I’ve been asked to write a full-length book at some point. There’s a part of me that thinks I’m not old enough yet or I need to do a little bit more. I probably will at some point. I do write a ton of content for Forbes, Fortune and a bunch of different places and I do enjoy it. That was that book. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know when you can have me back if I need to pitch the full-length book at some point.
If people want to pick that up, they can grab that online on Amazon or wherever?
Amazon or on my website directly. It’s there as well.
If people want to pick that up, I’d encourage them to pick it up because it sounds like it’s an amazing story. The last category to chat a little bit about would be your keynote speaking because it looks like you do a considerable amount of that I don’t know when but somehow between all the other stuff you’re doing. Maybe you figured out a way to put more time in a day than the rest of us have.
It looks like you key in on four things, which is the unstoppable thing, accelerating your career through personal brand and strategic networking, the future of work and then diversity, equity and inclusion. Out of those four, is there one probably you do the most with or that you see, “I’m getting a lot of people interested in this topic?” If so, what is it? Maybe share a little bit about that.
The one I’m requested to do the most is unstoppable, which is my story and then talk about the career advancement, journey and lessons I would leave with people because it can resonate with so many different audiences. I will tell you that March, which is Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day is probably one of my busiest. Pride Month would be another one as well. I’m asked to do that. It resonates with large audiences and then the other ones, it depends.
Connecting to future work is a lot of what we’ve talked about around leadership and culture. The way we look at skills and diversity all ties into that. I tend to listen to the organizers who ask me who’s their audience and what message they’re trying to convey. Sometimes, I mix and match all of those to present the right keynote for their audience.
Jon, do you have anything?
No. I’m still trying to figure out how everything gets crammed into a 24-hour day. It’s amazing.
She’s got a lot going on. One of the reasons I was excited to have you on the show is when you zoom out on Victoria, she’s the brand. A lot of people get caught up with, “I’m in Corporate America so the brand is the brand I work for. That is a brand. I’m doing this over here and there’s that brand.” She keys in on something.
I had another friend of mine talk to me about this a while back. It’s a powerful message. When you make yourself the authentic brand that you take to whatever environment you go into, when you decide to pivot or change, you carry all that with you. The way he explained to me was, “If you put all your branding,” for me, “into LEC and it was all about Leading Edge Connections, if at one point in time you sell LEC, you’re starting from ground zero again. You’re starting all over again.”When you make yourself the authentic brand that you take to whatever environment you go into, when you decide to pivot or change, you carry all that with you. Click To Tweet
It’s not a selfish thing. It’s a thing to make yourself bigger. When you make yourself bigger, you make yourself more powerful. When you make yourself more powerful and authentic, then you’re able to accomplish more, which you are doing. A cool part is that you’re in a perfect picture of that. You then get to choose. You give yourself the ability to say, “I want to be in Corporate America. I also want to do this and that.”
Since you’re not hiding under the umbrella of someone else’s brand as your identity, which you still work for brands but it’s not your personal identity, you have the ability to exercise and the freedom to have the opportunity of choice in your life. That is something that’s highly attractive to young and older people that are out there that may feel stuck. That’s what most of us crave. It’s freedom. We want the freedom to be able to live our lives the way that we want to.
I want to tell you it’s phenomenal what you’ve been able to accomplish. It’s encouraging. I’m going to make all my girls watch this episode and check it out. We enjoyed having you on. We’d love to have you back on again at some point in time, especially if you write the book because we want to hear all about that. If people want to get in touch with you for any of this stuff, what are the best ways to reach out and connect with you?
I do have a personal website, which is Victoria-Pelletier.com where you can learn a lot about me. A lot of the content I publish is there as well. For those who want to connect on other social platforms, you can get the links directly from there. Although, as my younger one tells me, I’m old because I’m not yet on Snapchat or TikTok. You will not find me on those but on all of the other platforms, for the most part, you can link with me directly off that website.
We want to thank you for coming on. It’s been a pleasure learning more about you and hearing about what you’ve done and what you are continuing to do in your life and the world. I want to encourage you to keep doing that. Keep being yourself. It’s amazing. We appreciate everybody reading. It’s been amazing to have Victoria on. If you like the show, please leave some comments. Let us know what you think. Like, comment and share. Let other people know about the show as well. We appreciate you watching this episode of the show. We’ll see you soon.
- Victoria Pelletier
- The Challenger Sale
- The Challenger Customer
About Victoria Pelletier
Victoria is a 20+ year Corporate Executive and Board Director – she is currently a Managing Director at Accenture. Nicknamed the “Turn Around Queen” by former colleagues and employers, Victoria inspires and empowers her team and clients to change mindsets and drive growth in business, leadership and culture.
As someone who does not subscribe to the status quo, she is always ready for new challenges becoming one of the youngest Chief Operating Officers at the age of 24, a president by 35 and a CEO by age 41.
Victoria was recognized as one of the 2023 Woman of Influence by South Florida Business Journal, 2022 Top 30 Most Influential Business Leaders in Tech by CIOLook, 2022 Most Influential Entrepreneur of the Year by World Magazine, 2021’s Top 50 Business Leader in Technology by Insight Magazine and a Mentor of the Year by Women in Communications & Technology in 2020. HSBC bank awarded her the Diversity & Inclusion in Innovation award in 2019 and she was IBM’s #1 Global Social Seller ranked by LinkedIn in 2019 and 2020.
As a prolific motivational and inspirational speaker, Victoria has delivered keynotes discussing the importance of personal branding and its impact on professional growth; being an empathetic leader in empowering employees; the power of DEI on corporate cultures and building a life of resilience.