“Take action! A small step is better than no step at all and you learn so much along the way. Take those steps.” – Ian Adams, Senator Club
Open up your newsfeed and you literally can’t escape the overnight success stories of today’s startup world. It seems like every enterprising millennial is solving a problem and in turn, making a six to seven figure payout. But, with our rapidly shifting economy those of us who aren’t giving up stability to pursue an idea, can be left in a vulnerable position. In a time where one is lucky to find a job, especially with benefits, figuring out how to stay two steps ahead to be ready for the next job isn’t a hobby; it’s a survival strategy.
Laying the Groundwork
No one has figured that out quite like Ian Adams, the founder of the Senator Club. Senator Club is a social club for junior sales professionals who want to get ahead. Inspired by the popular corporate sales incentive of President’s Clubs, Ian created a way to help junior sales people get the tools they need to meet or exceed their sales goals. Starting out as an informal meetup group, the Senator Club now caters to over 400 members. With networking opportunities and expert speakers, Senator Club has helped members find new jobs, develop new skills and simply get ahead. Focusing on the needs of this demographic has allowed Senator Club to develop a following beyond who goes to their events. A growing Twitter presence as well as being featured on Inc.
Taking the Leap
Quickly, Ian realized that the heroic tales of overnight startup success couldn’t be further from the reality. For a year and a half, Ian watched his first two ventures fail and learned a wealth knowledge from it. The most important lesson for Ian was the importance of work/life balance. Ian had left finance to get away from the 60+ hour work week and working as a startup founder did not meet that goal.
Following the end of his second startup venture, Ian decided to look for work at an established company in sales. With his experience in the startup world and finance, Ian believed that his transition would be a smooth one. However, in the span of 3 months, Ian went to 27 interviews and received one job offer. Those odds left Ian shocked and decisive that he would not let himself land in that position again. Like many millennials, he found tight competition at every turn and tried to make a diverse work history fit a narrow job description.
Reeling from the arduous job hunt, Ian realized he probably was not the only career changer to go through that experience. By establishing the Senator Club in July 2013, Ian has been able to build a growing and supportive community that has helped younger professionals strengthen their ties, close deals, and play a crucial part in their career development.
But, building a community of sales professionals is filled with its own set of challenges. First, and by far the most challenging, is identifying a specific vision. At the beginning, clearly defining what resonates with his audience and creating value based upon those findings required a lot of testing and trying what worked best. Once Ian found that vision, conveying a relevant message that would have value 5, 10, 15 years from now became his second most pressing issue. Once, messaging and vision became clearer, Ian has been faced with managing business operations. These challenges allowed Ian to learn his greatest nugget of knowledge,”there is always more to learn, there’s never a point where you stop learning.”
While frustration may mount as Ian navigates the issues of early business implementation, his greatest success has been witnessing the genuine relationships that develop within the group. This was never more evident for Ian than when he was laid off from his first sales job. At the time Senator Club was just gaining traction. Let go from his job just days before the next Senator Club meeting, Ian shared with the group that he was back on the job market. Within days a member of the club connected Ian with contact that lead Ian to find his current job. Witnessing the value Senator Club has provided to Ian and other sales professionals to the Bay area has made the journey all worth it.
From investment banker to founder to sales professional, Ian Adams has gained a wealth of knowledge and insight through his various experiences. His goal setting advice:
Really be clear in your big goal in what you want to accomplish, people fail get too into the details and not the big picture. When you keep an eye on the big picture the pieces will come together.