Last year, the awards dinner we had on the second night of kickoff was so sales-focused that everyone who was not in sales focused on the food and little else. So at the end of last year’s kickoff, many of us gave a lot of feedback, insisting that the sessions be run differently and more interactively, that the awards dinner recognize people across the go-to-market team, not just sales people, among other things. It looks like they really took our feedback seriously and have iterated differently this time around. I was surprised when the awards dinner was announced when our CEO announced that they would go team by team, starting with Services, then going to the Sales Engineers, then Customer Success Managers (or CSMs, that’s my team), then finally Sales (because of course… it’s sales focused…), and direct sales support (legal, operations, etc.). In my head, I was wondering if I was going to have my name announced given that I knew I did pretty well last quarter, and my manager had recently told me that I was getting recognized by the leadership team as being the most consistent person on my team in hitting targets repeatedly quarter after quarter last year.
They started discussing President’s Club on stage. In the past, they always announced President Club winners only if you were on the sales team, never if you were on any other team. So I kind of zoned out… until our CEO said he was going to announce CSMs who “made club,” too. They announced three names of people on my team, and then our COO says he’s announcing one final CSM… and…. well, it ended up being me. I couldn’t believe how many people were clapping and screaming and standing up for me. It was all a bit of a blur. I had people hugging me, giving me high-fives, and I barely remember what was said when I went on stage to be recognized and they gave a blurb about my accomplishments and my numbers for the last year. I took my gift, which was a Tiffany crystal with our logo and “president’s club 2018” on it, and later had to give it back so they could send it in for engraving. This year’s president’s club event is going to be at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, which is funny to think about because Chris and I went to visit the resort in 2015 as a potential wedding venue. We ended up choosing something far more intimate (and less expensive), but I remember really loving the visit and thinking it was a gorgeous property with stunning views of the ocean.
The order in which they announced our names was from the lowest to the highest, which means that I was the top performing CSM based on last year’s targets. I didn’t even realize this until my colleague told me afterwards because he thought I was brushing it off as not a big deal. “This is a big deal — you’re the top CSM globally!” my colleague yelled over the commotion in the room. “Everyone knows you now!” Again, public recognition is so odd to me. I rarely get complimented in front of a lot of people, much less the entire go-to-market organization hearing about my accomplishments. I had so many people from everywhere coming at me to hug and congratulate me. It made me feel happy but also a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable at the same time with all this newfound attention. And it even culminated in our CEO having a 30-minute conversation with me one-on-one, which I was not expecting at all. But it was actually a really good and deep conversation that went beyond work and even touched topics like my fundraiser and my brother. It’s odd, but I actually felt like we connected, and it was a good feeling to see another side of our CEO that I don’t often get to see when he’s trying to get us all to hustle.
It was a fun and exhausting night. I didn’t even get to sleep until past 2:30am because of all the conversations and partying tonight. But it does feel good to be publicly recognized for all the work I’ve done during my time here… even if it can be embarrassing for me personally. It’s like this is all finally paying off.