It’s certainly easy to be extremely busy and not successful. Increased success to me includes having an increased ability to choose how I spend my time.
Justin Davis is the Enterprise Sales Director with CenturyLink. Justin resides in San Francisco, where he leads a sales organization specializing in cybersecurity, cloud architectures, and innovations in advanced technology solutions for enterprise business at the global scale. In his free time, Justin enjoys traveling the world with his wife and daughter, trail running and studying emerging technologies.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve always been passionate about emerging, cutting edge concepts and technology, and collaborating with other people. In college, I studied Molecular Genetics while working sales and marketing jobs on nights and weekends. I deeply enjoyed both and wanted to find a way to combine the constantly advancing world of cutting edge science with the ability to interact and collaborate with people every day. Shortly after graduating I discovered the world of Sales within Managed IT Services and after more than a decade later I enjoy it more than ever, in large part due to discovering cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a lot like genetics — always shifting, advancing and challenging the status quo.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Let me just say, when you deal with cybersecurity at an enterprise scale, you see some things. I can’t get into specifics but suffice it to say the level of brazenness my team has uncovered at times borderlines on the unbelievable.
What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?
It’s the same challenge today as it was on my first day — How to improve? That’s the question I ask myself every day. How do I leave today better than I entered it? It always comes down to innovations and efficiencies. At my first sales job in the industry, the day started at the office at 7am sharp, consisted of cold calling all day with a mixture of 40 dials per hour and knocking on 75 doors each day, and ended around 6:30–7pm, no exceptions. As the business was transactional in nature, this didn’t leave much time to develop a healthy, recurring book of business. Sales reps typically burned out in about 4 months. I knew I wanted to achieve more, so I started setting up networking meetings from 5–6am and after 7pm, plus on weekends, as that was the only time I had available. The benefit of that turned out to be anyone willing to meet to discuss business partnerships at those hours was just a driven as me! After a few months of that, I had developed a healthy network of referral partnerships, which in turn freed up more hours to develop and implement new ideas. The challenges today come in different packages — How can I develop a top performing sales team in a market that doesn’t offer our core services? How can we be more agile than competitors 1/10th our size? — but it is the same fundamental challenge. So many times, I’ve seen challenges where overcoming them has been accepted as unrealistic, only to have someone look at the issue from a different angle, and suddenly all the obstacles fall away.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
To me, leadership means helping people realize their true potential and supporting them to get there. So many people are capable of incredible things but get into a cadence of staying in their comfort zones and doing what’s familiar. A great leader brings vision and passion and helps inspire their people to have the same. Once you move people out of the mindset of what they can’t do, they start to show you what they can do, and it is always incredible to see.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am grateful to so many people who have taught me much in my life. In particular, my first and greatest mentor has been my father, Jeffrey Davis. He has been an inexhaustible sounding wall and true north for me over the years. It’s from him I learned to always expect the best from people until they teach you not to, which is how I run my business today. He is also likely where I get my restlessness from. One of my favorite things he ever said to me is: “I do a lot of things well, but nothing isn’t one of them.”
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
At first, absolutely. And it still is at times. Building anything worthwhile takes a lot of time, effort and sacrifice and there is no shortcut through that. In my experience, however, this investment typically pays off. Tasks should take less time and effort as we become better at them, and I think the key is understanding these cycles in effort. When I take on a new goal, maybe that means I’ll be spending twice as many hours each week to meet that goal. Then after some time and refinement, as long as I am being honest with myself on my effort and progress, the same results will take fewer hours each week, freeing up windows of time. During these windows, I recharge, spending more time with my family, friends and hobbies. Then, it’s time for the next advancement, and I’ll spend an increasing amount of that free time looking for new ways to grow the business, then implementing and iterating, and I’m back at the front of the cycle, further and further each time.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?
I find the opposite to be true. It’s certainly easy to be extremely busy and not successful. Increased success to me includes having an increased ability to choose how I spend my time.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?
- Be dedicated about improving. Be honest in your self-assessments and seek feedback from others on what areas you can improve upon.
- Enjoy what you do. Seek out things you enjoy in your work and build upon that.
- Lead by example. If you want to cultivate a culture with work life balance, your people need to see you prioritizing balance as well.
- Focus on what’s important, let the other things fall away.
- Invest in your people. It should be your goal to build a team that ultimately doesn’t need you.
What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?
It is incredibly rewarding to help someone achieve and surpass their goals.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Travel. Read. Explore and expose yourself to new ideas. It’s where all the growth happens.
What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?
Drop me a line on LinkedIn. I’m always happy to connect and help anyway I can.
About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Medium magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live