During my lifetime, I have gained and lost over 700 pounds. I used to be morbidly obese, once tipping the scale at 260 plus pounds. No big surprise. According to the CDC, four out of five African American women are either overweight or obese. For more than four decades, I was a card-carrying member of that out-of-control sorority. And for more than a decade, I worked in public media—serving seven years as Director of Corporate Underwriting for Public Radio WEAA in Baltimore and four years as a Senior Account Executive at Maryland Public Television. A few years ago, I lost 60 pounds, kept it off, and launched a BRAND-NEW chapter in my life. Now I show overweight, overworked, overstressed, perimenopausal, menopausal, post-menopausal women—like I used to be—and anyone else who is over it how to quiet the battle between mind, body, and food. What the heck does this have to do with underwriting sales? Keep reading.
BRAND-NEW thoughts about food or anything, even underwriting sales, lead to BRAND-NEW behaviors— and outcomes. Here, I unpack the eight-step strategy I used to achieve and teach weight loss mastery. My program mirrors the actual letters in BRAND-NEW. Upon reflection, I recognized these as the same steps I followed throughout my 40-year career in sales—a career that has generated more than $75,000,000 in revenue.
B: Begin and Believe
Converting a $5,000 sponsor into a $50,000 partner (hint: $50,000 doesn’t have to come from one client) begins with imagining all that could be involved in getting there. If you want a BRAND-NEW and improved relationship with a client, you must first believe a better relationship is even possible. This is where you begin to write a BRAND-NEW story positioning yourself to provide maximum value to your clients. When you “begin with the end in mind,” you immediately start to think differently, ask different questions, and believe in BRAND-NEW outcomes.
R: Rise Up and Reinvent
Going from a size 22 to a 6 and finally learning to maintain it required that I discard my old diet-of-the-moment mindset. I had to rise above the old stories I believed about food and reinvent what food meant to me. Taking your business from where it is now to higher heights requires more than flooding client inboxes with the package of the week. When you allow your imagination to take you beyond the present, you also rise above the old this-is-the-way-we-have-always-done-it stories and reinvent how you see your clients and how they see you.
A: Alignment and Accountability
There is truth in the adage, “Inspect what you expect.” Alignment and accountability are all about integrity—when your actions and your words tell the same story. I know that if I weigh every day, I will NEVER be surprised by a 15- or 50-pound weight gain. If you are checking in with your clients regularly, asking the hard questions, recapping results, conducting value-driven conversations, you will ALWAYS be in a better position to manage unexpected surprises.
N: Nutrition and Nourishment
Good stuff in, good stuff out applies to our bodies and to business. How do you pour into your clients? How do you nurture them? Just as your body seeks nourishment, so it is with your clients. Your customers are hungry for solutions. Are you offering energizing ideas? Irresistible proposals? Delicious partnership opportunities? The ideas, information, and resources that you feed your clients grow their business and yours.
D: DSW—Not the Shoes
I got BRAND-NEW when I started taking actions I previously considered unimportant:
Drinking plenty of water
Sleeping enough at night
Writing in my journal
And so it is with underwriting sales. Resist the temptation to immediately whip out the oh-so-important package. Instead, sit for a moment and drink in all that you know about your client’s current situation and needs. Take a few moments before you go to sleep and write down a few questions that address your client’s problems. While you are asleep, your subconscious mind will awaken BRAND-NEW ideas and solutions.
N: No is the New Yes
It was a lightbulb moment for me when I realized saying no to an all-you-can-eat brunch meant saying yes to an I-can-wear-whatever-I-want body. I experienced that same illumination while working at Maryland Public Television. One day, a customer sent an email asking to renew the previous quarter’s business. Emails like that are a gift from the heavens, right? Wait, not so fast, bucko. As enticing as it was, instead of immediately turning in the PO, I responded with, “I have an opportunity that I believe will serve you better.” The client said yes because I said no.
E: Energy. Attention. Time.
Getting the body that I wanted meant doing things differently than I had in the past and becoming keenly aware of labels, portions, and ingredients. This same kind of mindfulness is in order when considering your underwriting customers. You can quickly and easily forward a client an article or video that they might enjoy. Or you could send that same content with a note explaining why you thought they might find it beneficial or of value, teasing out an interesting idea, or posing a provocative question. Making the extra effort to elevate the everyday—these are also the ‘E’ in BRAND-NEW.
W: WOW— It’s Worth It
Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I am unrecognizable to my own eyes—confirmation that all the steps, sit ups and boneless chicken breasts are worth the effort. Imagine what it would mean to grow your business by 10%, 20%, or even 50%; it is possible by working through each of the steps in BRAND-NEW. The concepts are flexible; apply them by day, by week, by month, by client, or by vertical—over and over—rinse and repeat. Over time you will rewrite the stories of how and what it means for clients to do business with you and for you to do business with them. Fast forward 12 months and your business could be unrecognizable. Whether it’s your body or your business, BRAND-NEW is transformation. BRAND-NEW is worth it.
About the Author
Big city born, small town bred, suburban living, nowhere near retirement, still-Southern, soulful sistah who’s serious about Scrabble and her morning walks -- Michelle Petties began a career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson in Dallas in 1981 and recently concluded a ten-year-plus public media career, serving for the last four years as a Senior Account Executive at Maryland Public Television.
A former public relations vice-president and broadcast sales manager, Michelle has worked for some of the most recognizable names in media, including Disney/ABC and Radio One, negotiating client campaigns for household brands like McDonald's, T-Mobile and Coca-Cola.
“Now, Michelle Petties is an author, speaker, Food Story Finder, experiential eating expert, and recovering food addict. Her first book, Leaving Large – A Food Addict’s Memoir: How I Won a 40-Year Battle Over Obesity, features the award-winning story, The Cake is in the Mail. After gaining and losing over 700 pounds, Michelle finally discovered that the “secret” to finding freedom from fat is in the “story.” The personal and powerful stories in her memoir chronicle a lifetime of eating for all the wrong reasons and illustrate how events, experiences and memories inform our beliefs, attitudes, and habits around food, eating and hunger, revealing that the answers to why we eat, what we eat rest in our Food Stories.”
Michelle attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, as its first early admissions student in 1975 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Texas at Arlington. Born in Los Angeles, raised in Marshall, Texas, she has lived in Dallas, Atlanta and Washington, DC.
When not writing, coaching or speaking, Michelle can be found on the tennis courts, shopping for new wigs or searching consignment boutiques for deals. Connect with Michelle here.