444: Stepping Down From your Executive Role: When It Makes Sense

Reaching an executive level role isn’t always a crowning achievement - but here’s what actually matters.



Dan Ruley, Senior Program Manager

Dan went from being a Director of Sales for a large company, to re-evaluating his life and deciding a smaller role with another company better suited his life and priorities.

on this episode

Many high performers work hard to climb the corporate ladder. Reaching an executive level is a crowning achievement! Or is it really?

Dan Ruley had worked his way up to become the Director of Sales, but (another) conflict arose between family and work, leading to him losing his job. Re-evaluating his priorities, he learned that an executive level role wasn’t right for him and, even though his new role is technically a step down, he now makes more and is able to focus on what he does best.

What you’ll learn

  • Why your job title doesn’t matter (and what matters more!)
  • How to figure out what is most important for you and how to prioritize it
  • That if you’re unhappy, your family will be unhappy, as well
  • How to take your dream (growing up) and learn what you actually want from it and make it happen

Success Stories

My favorite part of the career change boot camp was actually having some of those conversations and getting feedback and positive feedback about strengths. And to me that was key, because in that moment, I realized that my network not only is a great for finding the next role, it also is helpful to… they help you remind you who you are and who you will be in your next role, even if the current circumstances are not ideal.

Elizabeth , Digital Marketing Analytics Strategist, United States/Canada

The hardest part was getting overfitting myself into a job board. Because after about a decade of following job boards and what careers were trending in on the uprise, you really get in this holding pattern of not acknowledging what you want. It was you and your podcast and your CCB program. So, more background, I went through your CCB program a year ago. But, I finished it less than a year ago. And some of the tools are you have us design this ideal career profile. And so, you make us acknowledge all of these different aspects and put it together in one sheet. And so, it really visually lays it out that you can combine them.

Allison Curbow, Career Solutions Coach, United States/Canada

My brain always goes 'Well, what's the worst that could happen?' And that was another one of the exercises from Figure Out What Fits and once you realize what the worst that can happen is, it's not really that bad. In the big scheme of things, it might knock it back for a minute or two, but it's not not a biggie. They have not found it to happen yet. So I've just been pleasantly surprised every step of the way.

Mark Sinclair, Photograher, Australia

Dan Ruley 00:02
Say, we're gonna pay me more but that wasn't the most important thing. And, you know, I think that, while that it's okay for that to be the most important thing for some people, I think that they need to also think about the overall happiness of what their experience is going to be.

Introduction 00:21
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what it does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Joshua Rivers 00:45
Many high performers work hard to climb the corporate ladder. Breaching an executive level is a crowning achievement for them. Or is it? For some, they may have been promoted beyond their skill or desire. For example, when you're great at sales, you may get promoted to sales manager. But that role moves you into a different skill set. You're no longer focused on making sales yourself, but rather, making sure that your sales team makes the sales. Now this may be great for some people, but for others, they feel trapped in the administrative tasks rather than the face to face interactions as a salesperson.

Dan Ruley 01:26
When you're running a sales team, that includes multiple levels of salespeople. So you're managing this team of people, but yet, you're still trying to carry your own quota too, that's next to impossible to do all of the things effectively.

Joshua Rivers 01:39
That's Dan Ruley. He had worked his way up to become the director of sales. But a conflict arose between family and work, leaving him to lose his job. He began reevaluating his priorities, and Dan learned that an executive level role wasn't quite right for him. And now even though his new role is technically a step down, he makes more money and is able to focus on what he does best. Now, let's jump into the conversation between Scott and Dan, as we hear Dan explain how he lost his job.

Dan Ruley 02:13
You know, I think it's interesting, because I think it also speaks to kind of the state of the world that we're in right now. Right? Like, everybody's gone virtual, you know, there are people that have quit their jobs, lost their jobs, because of the pandemic and things like that. But I think that it has both bolstered people's confidence in themselves to make changes. But it has also, you know, made it difficult for employers to hang on to really good employees, because they're more confident in themselves. With my situation, you know, I had to take some time off at the end of the year to take care of some family things. And when I came back to my previous employer, you know, things were just a little bit off. The whole time I was gone, they were rooting for me, they're like, you know, "take care of your family, everything's gonna be fine. You know, we're here for you. You know, this is the culture that we have... yada, yada, yada." And then when push comes to shove, they're like, you know, "you're the director of sales. It was the end of the year, and you weren't here." And I'm like, I mean, my family is going to come before my director of sales position, because it's my family, you know.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:11
Yeah. As it turns out.

Dan Ruley 03:13
Yeah. So ultimately, they ended up kind of blindsiding me and saying, you know, "we're gonna part ways." And I was like, "wow, that's surprising. Considering I am literally the face of your sales organization" which, you know, it is what it is, you know, I took it with a grain of salt. And, you know, it kind of gave me that push that I needed to just say, "you know, what I need to do what I want to do, rather than continuing to do things that pay me well, but don't give me the satisfaction that, you know, that I want." You know, I'm tooled for chasing money and chasing really high paying sales jobs and things like that. And I just finally came to the realization that I don't have to. I can do something that I really want to do, something that I truly enjoy doing. And I don't really have to stress out about, I don't know, sticking with a plan that I felt was subpar for myself.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:58
So I think what's so interesting about what you said is that potentially, it could have been a good plan for you many years ago. But what you want, what you need has changed. And clearly you have other priorities now, as well. And the plan that... Yeah, exactly. Shocking surprise, right? But I think that that is, what happens to so many of us, is we keep operating on a plan that may have been good in parts for years ago, and now is no longer good. So I think that that is really amazing that you recognize that and came to that conclusion that "hey, like I've worked hard over the years, so I don't have to do it in the same way."

Dan Ruley 04:46
I think one of the problems, one of the pitfalls that people, you know, get themselves into is that they become comfortable and comfort kind of leads to complacency, right? Like so, you get stuck in this comfort zone, you're like, "You know what, I've been doing this for so long. I'm good at it, I'm comfortable with where I'm at, make enough money, whatever the case may be." And you don't really think about the bigger picture, like, what is my life going to be like five years down the road, if I'm still doing what I'm doing, if I'm still stressed out every single day, because of what I'm doing, because of who I'm working with, etc, they don't think about the long term goals. And I think that this, while it was a shock, and it was surprising, and it was stressful, I think that it allowed me the freedom to realize that. Now, and don't get me wrong, not everybody has that same ability, because some people are struggling financially. I was in a good position, because my wife makes good money. And I didn't have to, like, really stress out about like, "crap, I have to find a new job tomorrow" you know. So I think I was fortunate in that, that I had the space to be able to make the decision that I don't want to go back to doing the same thing. You know, I want to pivot my career in a different direction. I mean, it's a direction that I had been in previously as well. But you know, moving back into this direction, it was very fulfilling. And I think that my happiness level at this point kind of speaks for itself.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:07
Yes, I remember chatting with you, shortly after you had that shocking surprise, your previous organization going, "Hey, we're gonna part ways." And at that point in time, not only was it a surprise, which can be stressful on its own right, but how you described what you had been facing over the last, maybe a year prior to that, it was clear that you weren't entirely thrilled with it, as I put it mildly.

Dan Ruley 06:37
Yeah, you're absolutely right. When you're running a sales team, that includes multiple levels of salespeople, everything from SDRs, to account executives to client success, you're managing this team of people, but yet, you're still trying to carry your own quota too, that's next to impossible to do all of the things effectively. And I understand that in small organizations, things like that are necessary. But you also have to be smart about the way that you're executing that, you know, you have to be able to hire enough people to backfill some of the other things if you want your director to be an effective director. And if that doesn't matter, don't have a director just have a bunch of AES and client success folks and SDRs and have more, you know, roll up to the CEO or something. You can't put one person in a position to manage, you know, seven people and then carry a million dollar quote on his own. It's not realistic.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:25
So here's what I'm curious about, then. I know you had just earlier said, hey, you're glad that this happened, and glad that it happened in this way. And it forced you to, it sounds like look forward to the future and say, what do I really want? What were some of the parts and pieces that you were then able to identify that you needed and wanted that had been missing before? Or the areas that you really wanted to focus, your career and your work in?

Dan Ruley 07:53
That's a great question. You know, I think one of the biggest things was is my primary goal being in sales leadership was always to mentor and to help people grow. That's one of the things I'm very passionate about is professional development, personal development, and kind of the psychology behind human motivation. Those have always been things that have been very big passion points for me. And when this whole situation happened, that was the one thing that I looked at more than anything else was like, "What do I actually love about sales leadership?" And that was the mentoring thing. And I look back at my career, and my career has been pretty long. And it's been in sales for the most part for the entire 27 years, I've been doing what I'm doing. And I realized that the only times that I was truly happy in what I was doing was when I was teaching, and I realized that I had a career in sales training before and I was happy, I didn't make very much money. And that's ultimately the reason why I pivoted to a higher paying director type role, and it worked out pretty well for a while. Obviously, things change, you know, your priorities change, your wife all of a sudden decided she's going to be a software engineering does it all on our own, and she makes plenty of money. And you're like, "Well, crap. I don't have to make that much money now." And you know, ultimately, it just boils down to, I decided that teaching was what I wanted to do. So I really kind of went full force into finding a job in sales enablement, or training. And that's where I'm at now. And it's pretty amazing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:12
So, first of all, I know I told you, congratulations earlier. But again, congratulations, because I think you did a really wonderful job. And I got to check with Alistair, who you were able to work with a little bit on our team. And he was keeping me in the loop and filling me in on what was going on in the meantime, and I think you did a really wonderful job working through all the pieces and parts and challenges of that type of transition. So kudos to you on one hand. And then the other thing I'm really curious about is, as you went into this transition and started moving through it, what was the biggest struggle for you or what was hardest for you?

Dan Ruley 09:49
Honestly, the hardest thing was probably getting out of my own way. In the back of your mind when you spent the majority of your career trying to make sure that you're in these larger leadership roles, it's hard to fathom stepping outside of an executive leadership role and into, you know, still a leadership role, but not quite at the same executive level. And I think that was just a hard pill for me to swallow, because I have so much experience and I've been doing this for a long time. But ultimately, it doesn't really matter. You know, titles don't matter, your happiness with what you're doing is what really matters. And interestingly enough, I now make almost three times what I made before as a director of sales with a smaller title. So I can't complain about financial compensation at all, the title doesn't matter, because I'm doing something that I really liked doing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:36
You know, I think that's fascinating, because that happens so many times where we have in our heads, a specific way that we're thinking about this, like in your case, you just said, I had a hard time being able to really orient around, is it the title? Or is it happiness, essentially? That's what I took from what you said. And when you start to remove it and say, "You know what, I'm not gonna focus on that. I don't even have to think about it that way." And it opens up new doors and possibilities, where you essentially got what you really actually wanted, and a whole lot more, too, if we're talking about the monetary side, and completely different way.

Dan Ruley 11:09
Yeah, you're absolutely right. I think that's the biggest thing. When you're thinking or dreaming of making such a big change in your career, I think that you have to pick things apart and figure out what is the most important thing to you, right? Like, is a title the most important thing? And if it is, that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that. At one point in my life title was the most important thing to me. If compensation is the most important thing to you, again, that's great, then you need to go after that. If finding happiness in what you're doing is the most important thing to you, then do that. If you can get all of that wrapped into one pretty little package, hell yeah, you know, go for it. That's fantastic. But I think that you have to be able to pick out what is most important to you, and then put everything you have into going in that direction.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:54
That is, here's what I've learned about that exact thing, both for myself, and many of the people that we've helped over the last many, many years, I guess at this point, is that that is easy to hear and it sounds logical and simple when we're talking about it on the podcast. However, in reality, it's so much more difficult to prioritize for ourselves, what is actually most important, and it doesn't... just because we're prioritizing doesn't mean we're giving up hope on other things that are also like secondary important or third important, but it is incredibly difficult to prioritize that this is most important to me and declare that, like, that takes courage to do that. So I'm curious what helped you be able to do that for yourself?

Dan Ruley 12:42
I mean, I think that my wife had a really big part of that. I mean, having the ability to step away and not have a job for a few months while I was looking for the right one, and having the support of your partner, I think is extraordinarily important. I think that you're absolutely right, it sounds really easy, it sounds great in concept and theory, but putting that into practice, it's a whole different story. And I think that for a lot of people that are out there, they get stuck in this analysis paralysis, almost. Where they're like, "This is what I really want to do. But I don't know if I'm capable of doing it. Maybe I don't have enough experience doing it." I mean, when I was in high school, my original plan in life was I wanted to become a marine biologist.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:23
Was it really?

Dan Ruley 13:24
Yeah, that was my biggest dream in life, was to be a marine biologist. And then I realized that well, at that point, I lived in Arizona, so that was just not going to happen. Not close enough to be a marine biologist, you know. And it's like, you have to evolve what you want to do and figure out why it is that you want to do this specific thing. 15 years ago, I never would have said that I wanted to... my ultimate goal in life is to be a sales trainer, you know, that's not something that you think about, but you think about what it is that brings you happiness and joy in what you're doing. And for me, it's like it's helping other people. So helping other people succeed at what their goals are, has always been a really big part of my life, whether it's with my kids, whether it's with my wife, whether it's with my friends, you know, I just like to help people get to where they want to go. And you just kind of figure out, okay, well, step one is like, let's start in my career in sales, it was an easy one to get into sales. You know, salespeople are a dime a dozen, and you're either good at it, or you're terrible at it, you'll fail fast, or you'll succeed. And I was able to succeed, and I did really well. And I realized that, you know, mentoring younger salespeople that aren't quite as seasoned as I am was really fulfilling for me. So I just latched on to that for a while. And you just keep building along your career and you know, picking up little bits and pieces of what you really find joy out of. And then you get to a tipping point in your career where you're like, "Well, here are the things that I really love doing about what I currently do. Here are the things that are kind of terrible about what I'm doing right now." And then you have to weigh the good and the bad, like, does the good of me being able to help Junior Account Executives or whatever, succeed? Does that outweigh the massive amounts of stress that I'm under? Because I'm managing way too many balls at the same time, right? And then you just have to make the decision to pivot because there are other things you can do, that removes the bad, and keeps the good. And maybe there will be more bad, maybe, but it could be different. And why not give it a shot, right? If you have the ability to try, then you should. If you're stuck in a situation where and so many people are right now, you know, they're stuck in situations where they're struggling financially, and they can't fathom making a huge jump. And if you are in a fit situation where you are living paycheck to paycheck, and you're trying to feed children, then you know what not like, maybe that's not the right time, because you literally can't afford it. But you have to do everything you can to prepare yourself for the moment when you can. And I think that's the important thing is that you have to prepare yourself, you have to follow your gut and what you want to do, because ultimately, what's best for you is also what's best for your family, because my family is a lot happier now that I'm a lot happier. And that's just kind of the way that a family dynamic works, right? Like you live your life and you work your tail off for your family. And if you're unhappy in what you're doing, while you're working your tail off, you're not happy, thus making your family not so happy. And it just, you know, it's all crashing down...

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:17
I love that for so many reasons. And I definitely very much resonate with... it is for me, it is my family that drives a lot of what I do, I really, not only want to show up in a different way for my family, for sure, which is part of what I hear you speaking to. And the other side of it too, part of the reason why I do what I do is I want to role model for my kids that, like, you don't have to just be stuck in a situation that really isn't wonderful for you or for their families in the future, if they choose to go out and have families. Like it... I don't want it to ever be a thing for them where they feel like they need to stay stuck. So kudos to you because I know that's so much harder to actually do than it is to think about. And also I am curious, when you think about that marine biologist, what you wanted to do way back when, are there any Inklings or pieces that you were able to sift out from that? I think about for myself architect was something that, you know, when I was probably 9, 10 years old, that was definitely a thing. And many years later, I realized, well, I love creating things out of nothing, and that's the piece. I would have hated being an architect, quite frankly, but I love that creating something out of nothing, which now I get to do. So what... marine biologists, are there any inklings of pieces that are still true to this day? I'm curious.

Dan Ruley 17:37
I think that a lot of it comes out in like what I do for volunteering. I don't think that I can really equate much of what I do in a professional sense to marine biology. I mean, I did get to work with the Benioff Ocean Institute in my previous role, which was, by the way, phenomenal things. But I think that what I've done since then to kind of, I don't know, I guess, plug that gap or fill that need, whatever you want to call it is a lot of the volunteering that I do is surrounding animals and marine life and things like that. Living in a suburb of Portland, the ocean is an hour and a half away. So I can go volunteer with organizations to clean up the beach or to help monitor different things. And I think that I've been able to fulfill that need. Will I drop everything on the planet to go learn how to be a marine biologist now? Maybe not. But I would definitely do it is like a side gig. That's part of my retirement plan. When I retire one day, I'm going to become a marine biologist.

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:31

Dan Ruley 18:33
I don't know if that's a thing, Scott, but I'm gonna give it a shot.

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:36
I think that if that's something you want, you absolutely should give it a shot. Well, I love what you're saying, though, because, like you still have found through volunteer work a way to be connected to what you really wanted, even way back then as a kid. And I think that that is pretty amazing. So...

Dan Ruley 18:52
You know, too many people, you know, they have their dreams when they're a kid, you know, I want to be an astronaut. I want to be this, I want to be that. But when they become adults, they don't take what their dreams were seriously. Like, it was a pipe dream. I never could have achieved that. But you know, maybe you didn't achieve exactly what that was. But you can still achieve a lot of different aspects of what that dream was. You just have to reframe the way that you think about things.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:17
Yeah. Or even dig in, like you've done and identify what was it that I actually wanted out of that.

Dan Ruley 19:23
Yeah, exactly.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:24
Very cool. So here's another question that comes up for me. I know that you did a really wonderful job with this transition. But I don't know all the pieces of it. And I'm curious, when you think back what made this type of transition really work for you? Get into the nitty gritty for me just a little bit, like, what was something that ended up going really well in the end, but was maybe more difficult at the beginning?

Dan Ruley 19:51
I feel like the transition for me was probably easier than it is for a lot of other people only because I basically transitioned into doing something that I've already done before and that I have a lot of experience in. So I mean, I think the hardest part of the transition overall was just finding the right place to go, finding the right opportunity for me was probably the hardest part. Because there's obviously 1000s of positions out there, hundreds of different organizations that do what I do now. And it was really sifting through it all to find out, you know, what made sense. I think that you and I had conversations very early on, and I told you that I really wanted to go work for Salesforce. And I love Salesforce. And I would still absolutely would not mind working for Salesforce as an organization, their values really aligned with mine really well. But I think that digging a little bit deeper and understanding what other organizations bring to the table, and what other organizations, what their values are, there's a lot of other options out there, not just Salesforce, and not just Microsoft or insert dream company, here, there's a lot of other companies out there that can do what you want them to do, and I found that with Sage Intacct, you know, I think that it's an organization that I had worked with in the past as a partner in Salesforce, never thought in a million years that maybe I want to apply to work there, you know, it's a financial SAS company, you know, like, I don't know anything about financial services, that's not my gig, so I never would have thought about it. And then when you just kind of explore the different options that are out there, and you kind of decide between these different organizations. And if you're in a position, where you have the experience to be able to pick and choose what organization you really want to work with, I think that that makes it a lot easier as well.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:30
What caused you to begin, not even where you're like, "Oh my goodness, obviously, this is the organization for me, I have to work here." but even long before you got to that point where you started to have inklings of "wow, this actually could be something that I might be interested in as an organization", what were the pieces along the way that caused you to start becoming interested or start realizing that this could be right for you?

Dan Ruley 21:54
Honestly, it started with Salesforce, because I worked so closely with them as an organization. I mean, I spent years traveling around to their different offices and teaching them things, and spending a lot of time and kind of absorbing their company culture. And that is where I realized that culture in an organization, you know, there's a lot of people that are like, you know, they talk about company culture, and a lot of it is to be perfectly blunt, pretty BS, you throw a pool table in the office, and, you know, give people some snacks, and I think that's culture. And that's not the same as organizations like Salesforce, that have a real company culture, where they actually care and nurture their employees. And they, you know, they do a lot of amazing things with equality and things like that. And those aren't things that you know, until you've actually been able to experience it. So I didn't really understand that company culture was important to me, until I started working so closely with Salesforce. And I think that once you do that, and you're researching organizations that you want to work at, you know, that's when you hit the glass doors, and you hit up the reviews on the organization's and you do your research, you know, you make a list of all the different companies or you know, all the different positions that are out there. And you know, these are positions that I want. And then you see this is a company that it's at. Alistair did a really good job where he basically told me to make a spreadsheet. And that's what I did. I made a spreadsheet of everything. He was like, "here's the company name, here's the position that I wanted to apply for, here's their rating on Glassdoor, here's some of the more impressive, you know, reviews that they have. This is what their hiring process looks like, etc, etc." And you just become very prescriptive about what you're looking for. The more you know about an organization, you know, the more you know whether or not you and your own personal feelings and your own personal... the things are important to you are also important to that organization. And throughout my research, I narrowed it down to about, I was like four or five different organizations that I really went for. I threw out the applications, and then I got offers from a lot of them. And then I had to make the decision as to which one I wanted. And that's a good feeling. You know, it's good to have that feeling.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:52
What caused you to choose this one? What caused you, I mean, obviously, I know that it ended up being a pay increase for you. However, it was also more than just that.

Dan Ruley 24:03
Yeah, it was actually a really hard decision, because it ended up coming down to two different organizations that I wanted to choose from. And it was based on employee reviews, it was based on what I read about their company culture. And then a lot of it was based around the position itself. So I basically had the option of choosing between one organization that they had a team of people that would write the sales training curriculum, and they would do all that grunt work for a specific amount of money. And basically all I would be in charge of was having to teach it. And then you have the other organization that it all falls on your shoulders and you develop the curriculum, you teach the curriculum, you do the gap analysis to figure out what else needs to be done. And ultimately, what made me choose Sage Intacct over the other is that I had the freedom to be able to develop my own curriculum. I didn't have to rely on some other person that doesn't have what's in my head in their head. And to me it's more rewarding to build something from the ground up. I mean, I love the idea that they have people that will, you know, curriculum development team, that's great. But I want to develop my own, because I think that my way of teaching things fits better with my teaching style. They're both amazing organizations. And when I turned down the offer at the other organization, you know, I truly felt bad, because I would have fit in right there as well. You know, their team was phenomenal. The people that I met with, I mean, I went through five different interviews, and every single person was wonderful. And it was the same thing with Sage Intacct. So it came down to being a very difficult decision. But ultimately, it was because I wanted more control over what I was doing is why I chose Sage Intacct.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:39
When I think part of your ability to do that, because just because you have multiple offers in front of you, like we've worked with lots of people over the years where they have one or two or three or four, sometimes more offers, however, that being the case doesn't mean it automatically makes it easy, any stretch of the word, just because you have multiple offers. One of the nice things it does do, sometimes, is help people be able to measure what's important to them. But I find that unless you've done enough work to know what truly is important to you, or what you might need, then even that isn't necessarily fully effective. So here's the question that I have for you when you are in that situation. And you realize that, hey, this lines up more with what you actually wanted, like I heard you say, I really wanted to be able to develop my own curriculum. And it's great that there would be all these people doing that in another organization but it wasn't right for me necessarily. How were you thinking about that at the time as you were going through it? Because sometimes it can be a little bit emotionally taxing, when you're trying to make this what feels like a massive decision. And it is a massive decision about how it's going to impact probably the next few years of your life at a minimum.

Dan Ruley 26:54
Yeah, it was definitely not a decision that I took lightly. I think that it was definitely it was a tough one. I just kind of evaluate what I'm going to take greater joy out of in the future. I absolutely could have gone and worked for this other company, and probably you've been able to develop my own curriculum at some point anyway. But it also meant that there was an additional level of red tape that I have to jump through in order to deliver a training session to the people that I need to train, you know. And then with this organization, with Sage Intacct, you know, the way that I kind of meshed with my director, it was a better initial impression and a better initial relationship than I think I've ever had with any other company. And from the very beginning, she told me that because of my skill sets, because of what my experience is, I get carte blanche to do whatever it is that I need to do in order to make their sales team successful. And that, you know, that meant a lot, because I do have a lot of experience. And I do know what I'm doing. And I think for somebody to recognize that and to be able to say you do what you need to do to make us successful, I think that was huge, because it really makes you feel like you are valuable, and that's an important thing to feel as an employee. In all the years that I spent as the director at my previous organization, I never felt like I was valued, even though that I was doubling and tripling their revenue numbers on a yearly basis, I didn't feel like I was valued. You know, I went to all the executive retreats and all that kind of stuff, but there was no real value there. It was very fake. But with Sage Intacct, where I'm at now, I truly feel like I'm a valued person on the team, and somebody that they all lean on and not in a bad way, not like we need them to do all the work for us. But give us advice, tell us how to do these certain things, pull him in on different conversations about other teams that he has experience working with. And I think that that's important. When you're interviewing with organizations, really pay attention to the people that you're interviewing with, because those are potentially the people that you're going to be working with for an extended period of time. And if you get you know, the little hairs on the back of your neck start standing up because you get a bad vibe or something, make a note of that, because you don't want to work with somebody like that, because ultimately, it's not going to work out very well.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:59
It's probably not gonna turn out better.

Dan Ruley 29:00
If I would have known this 10 years ago, because I would have saved myself a lot of problems with a lot of different, you know, a lot of different positions, because I had a gut feeling in the beginning that it was like something feels a little off, but I'm like, but they're gonna pay me a lot of money. So I'm just not going to worry about it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:15
I'll smooth out with money. Right?

Dan Ruley 29:17
Yeah. Well, and that's, you know, that's the thing, like a lot of people use that as the great equalizer. If they have multiple offers, you know, they go directly to whoever is going to pay them the most. That's not the best...

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:27
What if that's not your highest priority, though? And...

Dan Ruley 29:30
And that's kind of where I was, like, the other organization that I was, had it boiled down to, they were gonna pay me more. But that wasn't the most important thing to me. And I think that while that it's okay for that to be the most important thing for some people, I think that they need to also think about the overall happiness of what their experience is going to be.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:50
Dan, I think that is wonderful advice, thinking about the what is the overall happiness and I'm curious for someone who is in the same place that you were, not that long ago, I mean, just months ago, you were thrust into a transition that you hadn't really planned in making that particular way. And you knew that at the same time, you didn't want to just accept anything moving forward. If you take yourself back to that place, and think about that person who's there, because we have many people that are listening right now, in that place, what advice would you give to that person?

Dan Ruley 30:24
I mean, first and foremost, stay calm, don't freak out.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:27
Don't freak out.

Dan Ruley 30:28
If you are thrust into this situation, like I was, do your damn best not to have a meltdown, because you know, that is already going to set you back a couple of steps. Look at things objectively, think about what it is that you want in life, what you want to be able to accomplish, think about it in terms of, if I have to wake up tomorrow morning and do this specific thing, and then turn around and do this specific thing every day for the next 10 years, is this something that I really want to keep doing? And if you can answer that, yes, then that's the direction you should go in. But if you can answer that with a, "I don't really know", then think about the other things that you might want to do. I mean, because this is not a small decision to make, to pivot and change your career trajectory and pivot in a different direction. It's a big decision. So think about it objectively, try to keep emotion out of it as much as possible, and figure out what you want out of life and out of your career, and then do everything in your power to go forward in that direction.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:24
That is amazing. Dan, I appreciate you making and taking the time to come and share your story. And thank you for making this fun. I've enjoyed every single chat that we've gotten immensely. And I have just one more question for you because I'm super curious. And I don't know that I initially asked you this way back when, but you talked a lot about, in this conversation, about culture and what you were looking for. And I think a lot of us are looking for different pieces and culture, and we know that, but I'm curious for you, what were some of the aspects that you were looking for that were important to you as it related to culture and the type of culture you wanted to be around and surround yourself by?

Dan Ruley 32:02
That's a really good question. I think that that question is more important now than it has ever been. And I think that for me, personally, I look for a few different things when it comes to culture, you know, I look for culture in terms of equality and representation, and organizations that are looking to work with and hire people from diverse backgrounds, not necessarily racially or religiously or anything like that, it's just overall, how diverse is your team? I love to work with people from all walks of life. And I think that that's a really important thing, too, you know, is working with a diverse group of people, because they bring a lot of different perspectives to what it is that you're doing. The other thing that I look at is, what kind of coaching do they have and do they provide? I look for a culture of coaching, a culture of mentoring, a culture of people that want to help other people grow and get better, you know, if you have an organization that is doing very well financially, but they don't have a good coaching, a good culture of coaching, I guess you could call it, there's going to be a lot of friction points there. And there's going to be hindered growth for a lot of people. I love to see the organizations that promote growth and promote people moving up and helping them get there. And I think that that's really important. One of the positions that I applied to at Salesforce, I ended up not getting because they ended up promoting somebody from within, and I was down to the... they were getting ready to send me the job offer. And somebody that worked in that team ended up applying for this promotion, and they gave it to that person. And I couldn't even be mad about that. I think I respected that decision because this person worked their tail off, you know, maybe they were uncomfortable with applying for it, maybe they didn't think that they were ready. But I appreciated and respected the leaders at Salesforce for giving this person a chance to do it, because it proves that they want to grow their people internally, and that makes me appreciate it. You know, now where I'm at now, it was the same kind of situation. But because I have so much more experience than the other person that applied, they decided to put me in the role. And they are going to potentially hire that other person or promote them to a junior version of my role to where I would actually get to manage and lead them, which is phenomenal.

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:06
That's amazing. And both are really wonderful examples of that organization, not just having the type of culture that you want, but also walking the walk in terms of what they want their culture to represent.

Dan Ruley 34:17
And that's huge. You know, I mean, I think that building a culture where the people really enjoy working there, I think is really important. And not because there's a pool table and they've got vodka in the freezer, you want to work for a company that truly lines up with your ideals.

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:31
Hey, many of the stories that you've heard on the podcast are from listeners that have decided they wanted to take action, and taking the first step of having a conversation with our team to try and figure out how we can help. And if you want to implement what you have heard, and you want to completely change your life and your career, then let's figure out how we can help. So here's what I would suggest, just open your phone right now and open your email app. And I'm going to give you my personal email address, scott@happentoyourcareer.com just email me and put 'Conversation' in the subject line. And then when you do that, I'll introduce you to the right person on our team. And you can have a conversation with us, we'll try and understand your goals and what you want to accomplish in your career no matter where you're at. And we can figure out the very best way that we can help you and your situation. So open up right now and send me an email with 'Conversation' in the subject line; scott@happentoyourcareer.com.

Larry Chase 35:51
After one year of seminary, though, I realized that this is not for me. And the short version of the story is that I found my higher calling, and that higher calling was brewing beer.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:03
All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until next week. Adios. I'm out.

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