Earlier this month (November 14, 2023) I had the distinct pleasure of guest speaking at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Business alongside my company’s founding partner, and personal friend, Zach Canaday. Assistant Professor, Blake Runnals of the Center of Sales Excellence, invited WSA to speak during one of his lectures. WSA has a partnership with UNL’s Center of Sales Excellence program and as part of that partnership, we are able to share our processes and experiences from our industry’s sales perspective. Through this partnership, we have been able to develop a robust and mutually beneficial sales internship program at WSA. As we continue to grow our own business, we are also expanding our internship program into the delivery side of our business– which was where the opportunity for me to join the speaking engagement presented itself.
During the lecture, I was asked to share how I became Director of Delivery at WSA. I summarized my story of joining WSA by quoting a familiar expression, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” You see, Zach and I have been dear friends for many years, as our families spent many weekends together just doing life. One evening as we sat around the firepit enjoying a cool fall evening over a drink we were all commiserating over our “work weeks.” Each of us found ourselves in a position seeking more from our careers. Shortly thereafter, Zach founded WSA, and within a year of WSA’s inception, he texted me one evening and asked if I would consider coming to work for them. I showed my husband the text and immediately said, “I would work for Zach in a heartbeat.” Within two weeks, I was officially the “first” WSA employee and the great adventure began!
While I firmly believe in the expression, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”– I think there is a lot more to this familiar phrase than what meets the eye. So, I want to unpack it a little. First, that expression only works if the WHO is tied to someone who is willing to learn. I’ll go even further and say that it works best if the WHO is eager to learn. While networking is an important life skill, expecting someone to vouch for your character, work ethic, and abilities is only possible if that person has high confidence in those quality traits. You see, Zach didn’t ask me to come to work for him because we were friends– he asked me to come to work for him because he’d observed through our friendship that I was an extremely hard worker. He saw my ambition level and knew that while I didn’t have any industry experience in his business, I possessed the skills to learn what I needed to know to be successful.
Second, WHAT you know isn’t finite. Our world is evolving every day and while you may possess key knowledge from related past experiences, the world of business is ever-changing and WHAT you know must always be expanding and adapting to the world. In my first year of working for WSA, I didn’t box myself into one aspect of the company, we were small, so we had to be mighty and adaptable. A willingness to do whatever it took to succeed gained me experience in every facet of our growing business. This ambition would later help to define the high-performing employee base that we are so proud of today! Our employees have adopted the mantra of “Nothing to it, but to do it!”.
Last, networking is easier than you think. As we were leaving the class that day several students came up to me to make a connection. Zach commented, “You know so many people!” The reality is, that I didn’t know any more people going into that classroom than anyone else, but I shared enough about myself for people to find something in common. I introduced myself by telling the class that I had attended UNL in the 90’s. I shared that I now have two of my three children attending UNL: my oldest son is in the ROTC program and a member of the Pike fraternity, and my daughter is a freshman and joined the Chi Omega sorority. After the lecture, members of Pike, Chi Omega, and ROTC all came up to me and introduced themselves. All it takes to network is to be willing to share a little bit about yourself and listen to what others are sharing. Connections are everywhere, just don’t be afraid to make them, there’s nothing to it, but to do it!
If you are interested in an internship at WSA, please reach out to make the connection!