Hello SOTGC community,
Today’s post is a story about sales, success, and life. Enjoy!
“I am not in the sales business, I am in the recommendation business. Women recommend at least ten or 15 things a day.” I am on the receiving end of a conversation with Lorri Herman, a petite, hazel-eyed woman with dirty blonde hair, a New York accent and a confident but warm presence. Lorri, an Executive Regional Vice President for a direct sales company, sits across from me at a quaint, French-inspired cafe in the heart of West Hollywood, sharing more of her life’s story.
Lorri and I had met a few weeks prior at the West Hollywood Women’s conference. We had one of those synchronistic kinds of meetings. I was grabbing coffee and circulating a packed room filled with women of all ages and professions, and Lorri and I just happened to bump into each other. Somehow, we shared where we went to college and found common ground: we were both alumni from the University of Miami. We were both women in business, though Lorri was much more experienced and seasoned than I. I was eager to hear more about how she went from having her own fashion business to selling it, becoming a mom then finding a happy medium between balancing motherhood and providing for herself and her son. It’s amazing what you can learn in five minutes about someone when you’re willing to ask questions and listen. With excitement and school pride at the top of our minds, we set up a future coffee date to learn more about each other and where we’d both come from.
Alas, that day had come. “I have a philosophy,” Lorri shares. “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me. We create our situations.” I vigorously type what she shares into the notes section of my iPhone so as not to miss any further insights she might share. Although she’s been in LA for many, many years, she still has the speed and tenacity of an East Coaster. During the next 45 minutes over coffee, Lorri continues to tell me about her life and all it’s twists and turns. Having grown up in New York under the influence of Jewish parents and a Cuban grandfather, Lorri had big business dreams from a young age.
Of the girls she went to high school with, very few went into business and the one or two that did, did so because they got divorced. She shares that most of her friends went on to work in education, either at a university or in research. Lorri pauses for a moment, takes a breath and begins to look me straight in the eyes. Her New York accent and vocal inflection indicate that something more serious is about to come. “There was no such thing as mentors, social media, go to school, get a degree, get a white picket fence back then. It was mostly, ‘Get married.’ Or if you were going into business, figure it out on your own.”
It’s in that moment I realize that perhaps my generation of business women and girl bosses are “lucky.” The pursuit of self-employment seems to be the norm these days. Social media and online marketing create very few barriers to entry when launching a product- or service-based business. We have many, many options for our future. We have mentorships, technology, women’s groups—heck we can even have babies on our own if we want. It’s also in this moment that I realize I want this new world but with the advantages of traditional world, too. I picture myself with a soul-mate husband, one to two kids, vacation photos, maybe not having a white picket fence but having a loft in the City of Angels. And yet, there are no romantic prospects at the moment. No babies or lofts on my immediate horizon. Just lots of tweeting and networking and working. I’m almost 35 and some of that tradition seems like it’s buried so deep in the past and not destined for me. I start to feel a little worried or disheartened and perhaps it shows on my face.
“You want to have a kid, you better set yourself a goal with (or without) your kid in your life. You plow through and find a way. You make that your affirmation, your goal, and you set your plan in action,” Lorri tells me without missing a beat. She speaks from experience. Her prior career had fulfilled her. She was previously the president of a fashion company, not on the design or merchandising side. She fought male stereotypes. “Men would show up at my office and say, ‘I’m here to meet with your boss.’ Then I’d tell them, ‘I am the boss.’ ”
“I was a tough boss,” she continues. “As a boss there was a consensus … I always had the final vote. ‘Convince me’ was a phrase I used often. And if you were taking on that challenge, you better be sure you could.”
One thing Lorri didn’t need any convincing on was becoming a mother. After she sold her fashion business, she dabbled in consulting and started exploring the adoption process. “It happened very quickly. Four months.” Attorneys had told her it would take about two years.
“Things don’t happen by accident,” she continues to tell me. “Mind your mind. Everything is all between your ears.” My ears continue to listen and it’s in this moment that I realize I am in the presence of a major manifestor.
These days, Lorri has the best of both worlds: flexibility, income generation, being a hands-on parent … and happiness. By day, when her son is at school, she leads her direct sales team for Arbonne. She loves her work but makes it a point to attend her son’s debates and hockey games. The two go on hikes and frequent family vacations together. I ask her how she manages it all as a single mom.
“Waking up next to someone you don’t want to be with is worse than being alone,” she says. I nod my head in agreement.
As we wrap up our time together, I ask Lorri for some final insight on successful selling tips as women in business and also how to sell to women. (According to Shecomony’s Facts On Women/Marti Barlette Primetime Women, “Women are the primary buyers for computers, cars, banking, financial services and a lot of other big-ticket categories”).
This is the moment in our meeting when Lorri shares that she is not in the “sales” business. She is in the recommendation business. Thinking of “sales” in this way can certainly lift any feelings of shame or self-promotion, no matter the product, service, or sales woman. Second, she tells me something I have heard once before. “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want. And remember, timing makes a big difference!”
I think back to a recent quote I heard about the “karma bus moving in circles.” And that sales requires relationships. Both of which require time and nurturing, not the use of force or expectation. No one feels good when we give with a caveat of having to do so to get something in return. However, when we give and help and trust that we are genuinely adding to our karma bank, somehow, someway the universe will reward us with what we want … in divine time.
As we take the last sips of our coffee, Lorri leaves me with some final imparting advice. “Money is right up there with oxygen, but you can’t pay for your health. Don’t sacrifice your health for work, it’s too big a price to pay.” And with that, I become a little more mindful about stress, success, and the art of surrender. I picture Lorri’s karma bank for taking time out to speak with me today, then I think of my own. I notate this moment in time and see myself ten to 15 years from now, balancing motherhood, owning the loft, being married to my husband, and sitting across from someone in the next generation of women in the business movement, sharing Lorri’s story with that future girl boss. Seeing that visual and knowing that the future will sort itself out if I listen and apply these “Lorri-isms” starts to help. I shift from worry to release to excited. Here’s hoping you do, too.
What was your favorite takeaway from this piece? Tweet it out and tag @SOTGC @JaclynMullen and @MarneyReid.