The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Navigating the Dark: Our Need for Networking w/ Hang Black


Which sounds easier — summiting a mountain by yourself on foot or together with someone who already knows the way? Exactly.

We shouldn’t navigate in the dark. We should build ourselves a network.

In this episode, I interview Hang Black, VP of Global Revenue Enablement at Juniper Networks, about her experience as a first-generation immigrant and woman of color — as well as her book, Embrace Your Edge.

What we talked about:

  • The meaning of navigating in the dark
  • How Hang’s upbringing gave her the eyes of an observer
  • Ways to build your network
  • The difference between mentors and allies

Resources we mentioned during the episode:

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Sales Engagement in your favorite podcast player.


Hey everybody, it's Sam Jacobs, and before jumping in to what you're about to listen to, I'd be remissed not to tell you about unleash two thousand and twenty one. On May eleven through thirteen, were focusing on how to win all together in the new sales era. You'll learn new go to market strategies, get deeper funnel insights and actionabile takeaways for your entire organization from revenue leaders at Highgro startups and fortune five hundred companies and are very special guests are none other than Guy Ras, podcast or, an author of how I built this and carry Lawrence, the first female fighter pilot in the US Navy. Come Save Your seat for this high energy online event at unleashed dot outreach dot io. Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, and they just launched outreach on outreach, the place to learn how outreach well does outreach? Learn how the team follows up with every lead in record time after virtual events and turns them into revenue. You can also see how outreach runs account based plays, manages reps and so much more. Using their own sales engagement platform. Everything is backed by data pulled from outreach processes and customer base. When you're done, you'll be able to do it as good as they do. Head to outreach, dooh on outreach to see what they have going on. Now let's get into today's episode. Hello everyone, and welcome to the sales engagement podcast. I'm brick PACHESTA SDR enablement manager here at outreach and coachare of diversity groups like gals and sals and the network internally at outreached. I'm so thrilled in honor to be joined today by hang black hang. It's currently the VP of global revenue enablement at juniper networks and has seen a tremendously successful career in Telecommons ass she also just published a book titled Embrace Your Edge, which details her experience as their first generation immigrant and women of Color, battling bias and preconceived notions.

Specifically, she recounts how learning to quote navigate in the dark has helped her break free from the confines of generic formulas to become a tenacious woman, mother and Silicon Valley leader armed with skill, will and tenacity and, better yet, she talks about how to pay it forward and pave a path for the women following in her footsteps. So Hang, it is such a pleasure to meet you and chat with you today. How are you? I'm well. Thank you. Thanks you so much for having me. I'm always very pleased to be invited on two platforms that speak specifically about women in the workplace and especially immigrant women. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and it's it's so exciting to see that there's an appetite to have these conversations more often these days. So that's great. So your book, embrace your edge. congrats again, hot off the press here in January. What prompted you? I'm sure you put many months and years into writing it. Will prompted you to write and publish it this year? Well, it's been kicking around in my head for about a decade and the reason it's so important to me is that the road was so much more difficult for me than it needed to be for anyone. And I don't know about you, but I have never been so simultaneously busy and board during this period, way to put it. Yeah, and I thought you know again, when we talk about navigating in the dark, those of us who get used to doing it really scrappy but really resourceful. For me, chaos is my jam. So in the middle of this chaos, when everyone is disoriented, I am kind of bored and I'm like, well, what do I do with my time? I'm going to write about that book, and it especially came to me when it became clear about a month into the pandemic that this was going to stick around with us for a while. So my first fingers to keyboard, believe it or not, was April twenty three. No Way, you make good time, and I like to joke that my covid book baby took less incubation time than my real babies did. But the other thing was, as the summer war on and we...

...saw all of the social injustice has happening, I was seeing a lot more division in the world and it felt like it was the right time to write for these marginalized populations, whether they're female and whether they're immigrants. And one of the reasons I target immigrants is because, even though I grew up in the deep south in endemic poverty, with multigenerational poverty, I don't have the right to write about that because it's not my share experience. My shared experience is with the immigrant experience, whether your black, white, gray or other or any shade of Beige, it is that tenacity that coming here with the hunger for a hand up, not a handout. Yeah, absolutely, and I think you do have such a fascinating perspective because after immigrating from Vietnam, I mentioned, you know, you didn't grow up in the deep South and Louisiana, and I love how you referred to it as you have the privilege of being surrounded by diverse groups of people on assuming, kind of assuming that's normal. But later you move into new environments and new cities and the divide is just so much more clear and you'd be scrappy and stand for your values. I mean, how do you think that's informed the way you navigate corporate America today, which, arguably is Pretty Darn Vanilla? Yeah, so, you know, it's funny when your child you don't see certain things and when you're immersing environment, you don't see certain things. I happen to have the privilege of being surrounded by multicolored people that were very accepting of me, except for this one experience. That was when I was a seven years old. That really really stuck with me and was a little bit traumatic, but me and I learned from it. And what I found was, when I went back to Louisiana, what I thought was homogenius or what I thought was accepting clearly was not. I just didn't have the eyes to see it when I was younger because of the specific people that I chose to be surrounded with and...

...who chose to include me. Now, that being said, I was literally a brown girl in, you know, growing up in a black and white world. However that me? It meant that I was neither implicitly included nor explicitly excluded. So I never belonged, but I wasn't excluded, and that gave me the gift of observation. It gave me the gift of becoming very objective, because when you're not part of any group, you don't have the confirmation bias that one group is better than the other. You see the faults, the fallacies, the love, the joy and the talents of every group individually. So you know, as far as how that has helped me navigate in the dark at you know, incorporate. One of the things I say is, how do you know, as you're climbing up the mountain, you realize that some people have tools that you did weren't even aware of, and and some people like me, who have this double minority thing going on, I didn't even know I was navigating the dark, because how do you know you're that you're blind if you can't see? Now, the gift of being blind is that all your other senses rise to the occasion and I'm able to see people and, like I said, talents for WHO and what they are without having that initial bias. So in a way my brain has sort of unlearned that that immediate, unconscious bias that is set up by the Enigduala to protect us, to fear the differences. But if you if what I describe it as is, imagine if you have a bowl full of yellow skittles, a blue one stands out, which is great for Brandy, but not for belonging. But in a bowl of multicolored candy everyone is the same, and so everyone is a misfit. Everyone has the same voice, everyone has the same platform. So that's what I love about navigating in the dark. Yeah,...

...and I love that saying, and maybe you could expand on that a bit. More like when you say navigating in the dark. What do you mean by that? As I mentioned, you know, early in career and you start the basis wide and open. Their many routes up and as you ascend you'll notice some people have a helicopter to the top, some people have a jet to the top, some people have access to tools and sharpis those of us who are just you know, whether you're female or whether you're an immigrant, you're just taught to work hard, work hard, getting done. Go. I'm down, heads down, you know, keep your head down and just just work up the mountain. Well, what if you're working up the mountain with your head down to the point where you're not even looking up and knowing that you don't even have the sun above you? So that's what I mean by navigating in the dark. I can't see the ropes and paths that other people can see when they have flashlights, when they have guides who have tracked before them. Immigrants Don't have those guys. My mother and father neither of them had. You know, not that, not even that. They didn't have a college degree, they didn't have a high school degree. They didn't even leave middle school because they were either. My Dad was the only my mother was the eldest female, which meant that they had to earn a living earlier. So, you know, put that aside. Then they come to they did well anyway, in a way. They navigated in the dark and their own country without access. They leave all of that behind. They come here. Their children don't have access to education, they don't have access to generations of financial security, they don't have connections, you know, because when you look at credibility, they're two things that you need, trust and competence. And, as we mentioned a little briefly earlier, trust is built by biologically we convene to those who look alike, who feel the same... us. It's just a natural where naturally wired to be pack animals. So anything that's different, is unusual, is harder to build the trust. Competence is built by access to is there someone to voucher you? Do you have a network to voucher you? Do you have? Did you go to certain universities that automatically come with credibility? Do you have? You know, when my parents came over again, they don't have the network, and then it was harder for them to send their children to college. So they're their children lack the credibility as well. So for us it's kind of you know, how do you establish it on your own? So meritocracy works for a while when you're navigating in the dark, because you can get up that mountain. You can get up that mountain. You need to work really hard. At some point you hit a steep incline. Then what? Then? You just keep circling and let me tell you, something broke. You can circle all damn day for years, which is what I did, only to realize what I really needed was to find the secret person that will open the secret door for me to the secret and that's where networking in brand is really important. And when you ask me again, why did I write this book, it's because I wanted to pack thirty years of learning, of my direct experience of going to conferences, of reading books, of having executive coaches, and I wanted to give that access back to women and immigrants much younger than me or earlier career than me, so that their path is much easier. So I can help you, I can be that flashlight for you. I can't take the journey for you, but it can actually I can absolutely help define the way. Or Yeah, and I think that is so crucial, right, like you don't know what you don't know, and if you don't know how long you've been circling or that other people are passing you by, like how frustrating. And like at what point did you realize, okay, I have to go find the secret person with the secret tunnel, like reserve specific Gamestance, or was it just like I'm sick and doing this? Well,... took time, and you know I'm stubborn like many, and it took time, but it took some flash points too. So when people ask me, you know, when did you become Badass, I say only five years ago. My career actually really didn't take off until I was over the age of forty five. So when I want to tell people is that it's never too late, but it starts with self awareness. So then people say, okay, well, how did you get their hand? Well, it took the deaths of two parents ten years apart. It took a divorce, across country, move three layoffs in two trips to the are. So my advice is don't wait for that, you know, because I don't recommend that for anyone. Go to books and resources, find and build your network in your community. It's not always who you think it is. It's the people who challenge you, but they challenge you because they trust you and they see talent in you. There are many, many diminishers out there, and it's really important to understand when is this a moment for learning and when is this a moment of toxicity that I need to get myself out of, because for those of us who have been brought up on the thesis of just work hard and you'll get there, I can tell you it's not true, and it's absolutely not true. The further you mean to ascend. Yeah, and, like you mentioned earlier, like finding the super person or somebody who's already in the club and making sure that you're also balancing that with like I don't want to be surrounding myself with toxic people. Like how can somebody recognize, like hey, this is probably somebody like of course you should be kind and respectful to everybody that you work with, and how you talk about that a lot of like just be helpful and kind and empathetic without expecting anything, and often times it will come back. But how do you identify like the club or the...

...members of it and, I guess, attach yourself to that network. So I would say, you know, there is a misconception that you attach yourself to someone in power, because power flips any moment, at every good point. Hey. So what I would say is, how do you recognize someone who's a multiplier versus someone who's a diminisher? Liz Wiseman has a very, very good book around that and if you're series about your career, there's some books that are absolutely staples. That's one of them. In you know, I can almost I've had this conversation so many times now I can almost tell you the page number, but I can at least tell you that you the chapter in. Sit Down and shut up. We talk about transactional analysis. If you start diagramming your conversations with people, you can start recognizing if people take a parent tone with you, a child tone with you or an adult tone with you. Those who stay in the adult tone with you, those are the people who are going to be your multipliers and your collaborators, whether or not they have power, whether they're beneath you, know, around or above you. Those who tend to be in the parental state. You know, you got to measure. Is this normal? Is this one person or is the whole environment like that? If that's the whole environment, you're in trouble. Now let's talk about the different roles that people play. There has been a lot of work around mentorship and sponsorship, both of which are really, really important. Mentors and sponsors, though, still affect a single person. So you still need to do that for yourself, find those who are mentors and again their misconceptions that mentors are only above you, it's only your boss. I have mentorship everywhere, meaning my boss, my peers, the people who work for me. Some of my best mentors are people who work for me because they're closer to the ground of what's happening. My kids have been fantastic mentors for me because there they hold a mirror. Sponsors have influence.

They're not the people that you're going to, you know, cry your eyeballs out, you know, with a glass of wine. They're the ones that are going to represent you when you're not in the room, when critical decisions are going to be made. They're connected there, there to other people of influence. Now where I think the conversation needs to move to in order to elevate marginalized communities. We need to focus more on allies and role models, because that is where will actually make impact, to help elevate a whole class of people. And, by the way, ally, ship and role modeling CAN BE BI directional. I'm an advocate for white men all the time. I tell people there, you know, there's no need to demonize white men it we also expect them to help us, you know. So allyship is, you know, it's just defending or representing people who are of low population in the room. So when I'm with a group of minorities, there is a tendency for whoever the larger group in the room is to sort of getting up on whoever is the smaller population. So I find myself defending white men white women all the time, just as as strongly as I defend women and minorities when, as you said, there's more of a vanilla population, which is ninety five percent of the time, you know. So I always talk about the Civil Rights Movement, for instance. Mlk would not have been successful without JFK, no doubt, but JFK also would not have been successful without Mlk, because how can he speak to a population for whom he does not represent the human experience. Yeah, for the quite, you know. So mlk was who gave jfk his credibility, you know, and so I...

...have, you know, open conversations with White Mail leaders in my organization all the time, and it's much more meaningful for them to to be able to speak to them in a way of you know, have you thought about this? You know, if they implement a diversity program and I would say, as someone who would have been part of the population you are trying to help, I can tell you that program is not going to work. And here's why. Because every will meaning. But the question is, have they formed those relationships as well? So it's really important to form this relationships where you contributing to each other. And that's where I was saying. I'm hesitant to say how do you attach to a person in power? How you how do you identify them? How do you attach them? I would say more of you'll know a person's empower, if they how much, depending on how much influence they have, to create impacts and to change the game and I would say provide value to them, be their trust and advisor, talk to them about hey, here's some things I'm seeing. I don't know if you've seen it, but here's how I can help. And remember, sponsorship ally should mentorship all of that stuff. We have to be able to help each other by directionally. Yeah, and I love what you just said about using your voice and your gift of observation. I'm finding ways to like partner on projects. Does Not just mean putting your head down. I mean, you know, pointing out the flaws in it and like sharing your perspective on it, which is crucial. That's why we're all hired, right, for a brains, not just to be, like you said, heads down. I mean this conversation has been so illuminating things. Thank you so much for taking time. I One last for fundy question for you. With the vaccines coming out, and hopefully there's a very close slide at the end of the tunnel, what are you most excited for post pandemic? International Travel, you and me both. Yeah, I'm like itching to get a fair points. Yeah, on a plane out of the country. Yeah, I miss that. And,... know, just being with people and not being afraid to hug. Oh, I know I'm doing the weird way from far away. Yeah, it's very odd. You know, I don't think humans were meant to elbow bump so much. Well, again, thank you so much and if folks want to find your book, I assume they can find it on Amazon, embraceter edge. And Yeah, thank you so much for taking the time to chat and to have a wonderful rest of your day. You're very welcome. You can find me at Hay with Haycom and also on clubhouse. Awesome. All right. Well, thanks so much. Thanks. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. To help this get in front of more eyes and ears, please leave us a shining five star review. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes. Resources in the book on sales engagement. To get the most out of your sales engagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach. That ioh, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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