In this episode, Sasha Katz, ActiveCampaign’s talent acquisition manager, joins the podcast to discuss personal development and growth. Hear her story and learn how powerful mindful decision-making can be when it comes to achieving significant personal and professional goals.
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Chris Davis: 00:23 Welcome to another episode of the ActiveCampaign Podcast. I’m your host Chris Davis, and I have with me today, Sasha Katz, who is part of the ActiveCampaign team. She’s on the people team, and she’s over at talent acquisition, and it’s a bit of turn from the regular technical marketing business growth topics that we usually go over on the podcast. Today, we’re talking about personal development and growth. What Sasha displayed to me in our brief interaction, earlier this week actually, was how powerful it is when you’ve made up your mind to do something. I won’t go into too much detail, but there is nothing stopping you from making your mind up right now to be the change that you need to be. Once you make your mind up, there’s nothing that will stop you from achieving that version of you that you set out to be, or whatever goal that you set, so this is covered in detail in this podcast, so enjoy.
Chris Davis: 01:29 Sasha, welcome to the podcast. Glad to have you, how are you doin’?
Sasha Katz: 01:33 I’m good, Chris, how are you?
Chris Davis: 01:35 You know what? I’m overly excited today because of the topic, but I always have to make sure I don’t get ahead of myself. Let’s introduce you to the audience, tell everybody your position and you know what, give ’em a little bit of history about what your path to at this point.
Sasha Katz: 01:54 I started my career in mental health counseling about 12 years ago, worked in a max security prison working with inmates of all different kind of levels and worlds.
Chris Davis: 02:07 Wow.
Sasha Katz: 02:08 After doing that for a couple of years, working inpatient in a psychiatric facility, I decided I wanted to make a career change, so about eight years ago, I got into staffing, and ended up in high-level executive search. About four years ago, I made the switch to internal talent acquisition, so this is … ActiveCampaign is my third high tech, high growth startup, and here at ActiveCampaign I oversee the customer-facing recruitment team and function, so everything non-technical, so success sales, marketing, etc.
Chris Davis: 02:47 So tell me this, what have you found? Because a lot of times, we think our paths are not connected, we’re like, “How did I end up here?” What have you found has been the common denominator for you in all of the positions?
Sasha Katz: 03:01 Two things; one, people, and two, empathy.
Chris Davis: 03:08 Wow.
Sasha Katz: 03:08 I think what counseling taught me was how to meet people where they’re at, and how to communicate with people of all walks of life.
Chris Davis: 03:16 Man.
Sasha Katz: 03:18 Psychology and living in that world previously has enabled me, I can’t even tell you how much.
Chris Davis: 03:27 Listeners, just know this is new, I did not know this. I’m blown away right now, but what I love about it is that there are so many people just in life in general that can’t piece it together, their experiences. Sometimes you learn a skillset in one area that has some value, but when you take that same skillset in an entirely different realm that the value increases immediately.
Sasha Katz: 03:59 Absolutely.
Chris Davis: 04:00 That was similar to me when I was an engineer. As an engineer, I was doing logic and programming these micro processors and everything. The value was I would say marginal at best, but you take that same analytical logic driven programming mind and put it into the small business space from essentially programming small businesses, and immediately the value just shoots up, and you get a different sense of fulfillment.
Sasha Katz: 04:25 For sure. I think the hard part is understanding what that transferable skillset is, but convincing somebody else to buy into that as well, and to ultimately give you a chance at something new.
Chris Davis: 04:39 Yes, absolutely. So how we got to this podcast today was I ran into you at our lunch in the café. I was gonna say lunch table, but we don’t have a lunch table. We have catered lunch twice a day, and it can get you in trouble. It can get you in trouble, it’s like mini taste of Chicago every week here at ActiveCampaign. So you had a ensemble of terrible choices that you could’ve chosen, and then you had a salad, right? There’re pans, everybody, here’s a salad pan, and then all these other meats and fattening foods. Sasha, you were there, and you were just getting the salad, and I thought you were gonna move on and get other stuff, but you didn’t, you didn’t. You stopped and then that started the conversation where it’s like, “Hey, tell me about this decision you made.” So give our listeners some insight about that conversation.
Sasha Katz: 05:40 Yeah, five months ago, so it was December 31st, me along with 7 million other people in the world decided, ‘Oh it’s New Years, I’m gonna have a resolution,’ right? Which I’ve never followed through with to be honest, in the past, but I stepped on the scale on December 31st, and I didn’t like what I saw, and it triggered something in my brain. The next day, which was the day before I started here at ActiveCampaign, I decided to make a huge life change, or a shift in how I live my life in terms of eating. So I started the paleo diet, which I knew had been pretty effective for a lot of other people that I know, and from then on made a conscious decision to not eat things like grains, wheat, flour, dairy, sugar, and have stuck to it for five months.
Chris Davis: 06:35 Alright, and when you told me that, I asked the question that I feel like society trains you to ask. It’s just, ‘What was your trick? What were the steps?’ We’re always looking for a formula, some trick, something to make us feel good about not doing it because you knew something that I didn’t know, so I can always say, “Oh I didn’t know. Let me try that.” But what was your response, Sasha?
Sasha Katz: 07:02 I said, “Look, it’s a mind shift. There’s no secret. I’m not gonna tell about a food that you never heard of, or a diet that’s not out there. It’s the power of your mind, and your mind is very, very, very powerful.” I think a long time ago, my mom bought me this sign for my desk that said, “Change your thoughts and change your ways.” I think about that daily because I said this to you yesterday too, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” So I knew something had to change, and it was truly a shift in mindset.
Chris Davis: 07:44 I was so disappointed and glad you said that. Disappointing because you removed all my excuses, I was just ready to say, “See, I need to read that book,” or, “I need to find out more about that diet before I can make this change.” When you frame it in the truth that it is, saying that it’s a mindset shift, it’s someone making up their mind to do something and sticking to it. Anybody can do that at any moment, right?
Sasha Katz: 08:14 I mean this wholeheartedly, and I wish everybody listening knew me well enough that if I can do this, anybody can do this. I love food, I do. There’s that I live to eat and eat to live, whatever. I love food. If it’s there, I’m gonna eat it, so it’s making that conscious decision, and knowing I’ve had this before, I know what this tastes like and I’m not gonna have it again.
Chris Davis: 08:37 Yeah, and two is I wanna highlight of course some of the culture that if someone’s looking to work with a startup, here’s some things you should know. One is, this is not your first rodeo, but this is my first time working for a startup where lunch was catered every day. Initially you’re like, ‘Oh save some money, don’t have to pay for lunch,’ boxes checked automatically for me every day until a few months in you realize you’re more tire at 2:00, you walk by the mirror and say, “Wait a minute, is that …”
Sasha Katz: 09:13 That wasn’t there.
Chris Davis: 09:15 “Where did that come from, right?”
Sasha Katz: 09:16 Right.
Chris Davis: 09:17 So in onboarding I like to warn people all the time and say, “Hey look, it’s gonna take a while to build up your immunity to the free lunch that we have here because it’s not the healthiest choice every single day, and if you’re indulging every day, but if you’ve never worked with a startup, you don’t know these things.” So for you, your ability to handle this temptation was a bit different, right?
Sasha Katz: 09:44 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, so I was telling you this yesterday, it’s like shame on me for saying this ’cause it’s embarrassing that this is the third company I’ve worked at that’s provided free catered lunch, so for me, it’s not that I expect it by any means, but I knew what I was getting into when I started the diet and started ActiveCampaign. Not only is there free lunch, but every snack under the sun and soda and the whole nine yards, so it’s not easy, it’s a difficult decision every single day.
Chris Davis: 10:16 Yeah and what I like, or I should say, what I wanted to merge with this is someone like yourself who not only subscribes, but lives by the truth of, ‘If I make up my mind to do something I will find a way to make sure I can get it done.’ When you think about our users and even our employees, right?
Sasha Katz: 10:16 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Davis: 10:41 When you’re doing your search for employees and our users, you see a lack of that hurt them in various ways. From my end, the blame is always put on the tool. Let me speak specifically, most businesses do not make the decision to do digital marketing. They don’t make the decision to say, ‘Okay, I am going to commit to digital marketing,’ and what happens is this half commitment. It’s like, ‘Okay, we’ll send some emails, but nothing else.’ They do it the safe way.
Chris Davis: 11:16 I look at you and I say, “Okay, Sasha, what would’ve happened if you would’ve said, ‘Okay, I’ll just not eat bread, but I’ll keep doin’ sugar, I’ll keep doin’ all the dairy and everything else,'” right? There is … I shouldn’t say there is, that’s a statement. Let me ask you, what do you think is the hardest part with making that decision? Is it a fear of loss, is it a fear of the unknown? What do you think that is?
Sasha Katz: 11:47 So two things, I said this to you again yesterday, my dad always taught me that there are three people in life, there are people that sit on … At a pool, you sit around and you watch other people in the pool, and there are other people that dip their toe in the water and then they get back out, and then there are people that jump head first. For me, what you’re speaking to is the decision jump head first and go all in because you can’t do things halfway there. You won’t see the results in anything. So for me, it was a matter of jumping head first and making sure that I put my everything into it, and it wasn’t, ‘Okay I’ll do this on some days and do this on some days ’cause you will not see the results, I know for a fact,’ right?
Chris Davis: 12:31 Yeah.
Sasha Katz: 12:33 The fear for me, it’s actually weird because I feel super guilty and I just I’ve now seen and felt and tasted what this is like, and I will refuse to go back to that way. So again, it’s setting your mind to something and just there’s no other option for me.
Chris Davis: 12:54 Yeah. Now tell me about support. What type of support do you have in this decision? Was this one of those things where you made an announcement to everybody, was like, “Hey, everybody, I’m changed. I’m eating this way, don’t bring candy, don’t do any of this,” or was it more so like you and maybe a collective of a small group of people that knew? ‘Cause I know you don’t walk around with it like a big sign, “I’m eating right, I’m eating right.”
Sasha Katz: 13:25 No, there was no support, there was no nothing. It was a decision I made on my own. I live alone, so I cook for myself, so it was a conscious decision for me, but the people around me that I spend a lot of time with knew because I thought at first it’s gonna be difficult. Like, ‘Don’t bring me cupcakes tomorrow,’ and like, ‘I love you, but just if you love me, you’re gonna support me, right?’ But everyone always feels bad like, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, I don’t wanna eat this around you or tempt you.” It’s like, “Look, again, I’ve had it. I know what it tastes like and I’m not gonna have it again.”
Chris Davis: 14:00 Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Sasha Katz: 14:00 I have to be willing to be around it and be tempted by it because again, if you have the right mindset, you will not let anything get in your way.
Chris Davis: 14:11 Yes, you become an immovable force instead of running into immovable objects, right?
Sasha Katz: 14:11 Yup, yup.
Chris Davis: 14:20 So what would you say, like we talk about the power of your mindset, and your experience and how that’s grown empathy in you and the ability to really meet people where they’re at. How has that at ActiveCampaign in the capacity that you’re in now, how has that really helped you get acclimated and perform your job at a high level?
Sasha Katz: 14:47 Look, I have to interview people and constantly put myself out there and meet people that are quite frankly a lot smarter than me, and experts in their space. I think putting your guard down and having the humility to know that you don’t know it all, and treat people the way you wanna be treated, and meet people where they’re at in terms of communication, and everything, and humanize the approach. People open up to you that way, and people can feel that.
Chris Davis: 15:21 I agree, I agree. I think that I’ve mentioned this before on the podcast, or may somewhere else I was speaking, that the increase of digital media, social media, and just technology has made the personal touch and feel more of a stranger than someone that you’re closely related to. So now anytime that you can make someone feel more personal and make them feel that personal attention, it does tenfold what it would have done in the past.
Sasha Katz: 15:59 It’s funny you say that, a lot of people are trying to disrupt recruiting and all this AI and bots behind all of it. The cool part is my job’s not going anywhere quite frankly because you need the humanized … A large part of what I do needs to be humanized, right?
Chris Davis: 16:16 Yeah.
Sasha Katz: 16:18 It’s just I see technology enabling me in many ways, but again, it’s the cool thing that people always want to talk to people especially when it’s about a life altering decision. Getting a new job or changing your career is massive.
Chris Davis: 16:37 Yup, yup. It’s what I’ve always told people, automation, we can say technology, should be a facilitator. I think the extreme of it is what people fear, right?
Sasha Katz: 16:51 Absolutely.
Chris Davis: 16:51 Since we think in extremities, where knowledge is low speculation is at an all time high and we only speculate the worst, so instead of looking at a bot or a tool or platform as something to help facilitate the qualification of candidates, so you don’t waste time on ones that aren’t a good fit for the company, right?
Sasha Katz: 17:14 Yeah, critical. Psychometric assessments, video interview tools, [inaudible 00:17:21], right?
Chris Davis: 17:21 Yeah.
Sasha Katz: 17:23 I could name a number of platforms and things that make my life 50 times easier, but I think it’s just the piece around connecting with people in this type of function, people appreciate that too.
Chris Davis: 17:37 I’m trying to keep this one non-technical, but there’s so many parallels. There are so many parallels. Yeah, I could take what everything that you’re saying and then right afterwards say, “In your marketing,” and it would be a true statement, right?
Sasha Katz: 17:51 Yup, yup.
Chris Davis: 17:51 Just open to everyone because that … Sasha, what I don’t want people to ever over complicate connecting with humans, right? Being human beings towards one another is not removed or replaced by technology, it should be enhanced, right?
Sasha Katz: 18:11 Mm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely.
Chris Davis: 18:11 Enhanced. I should be able to go on LinkedIn technology platform, and find people in my space, connect with them, perhaps network virtually until I can network in person, but it’s not like, “Oh I don’t need to go anywhere, I don’t even need to buy an outfit. I’ll just network on LinkedIn forever now.”
Sasha Katz: 18:32 Absolutely. Now little shameless plug for LinkedIn, but I definitely couldn’t do my job without it, so there’s the technology, you know what I mean? But you’re absolutely right.
Chris Davis: 18:43 Yeah, so in summary as someone who’s … Sasha, would you have ever thought when you were in those prisons, that this would be where you’re at?
Sasha Katz: 19:02 Not in a million years.
Chris Davis: 19:03 Right?
Sasha Katz: 19:05 I talked to some of my teammates about this often, who are recently coming into recruiting in their careers. They’re like, “Well I just don’t know where I wanna be, and I don’t know where I’ll be,” I’m like, “If somebody told me that I’d be here in high tech, in Chicago, in recruiting, I’d probably would’ve laughed in their face.” I didn’t even know what recruiting was or high tech, or marketing automation. So I think it’s just a matter of being open minded and taking day by day, and taking sometimes an unorthodox path.
Chris Davis: 19:42 Yeah, and with open minded, it’s like the process of unlearning, right?
Sasha Katz: 19:48 The growth of mindset.
Chris Davis: 19:50 Yes, and you see it, so I can … If we sat here and talked long enough, we highlighted your decision in eating food, right? But that was a result of all of the smaller decisions that you’ve made that have positioned you to be able to say, “Okay, I’m gonna flex the same muscle against eating right now.”
Sasha Katz: 20:14 Behavior change is the single most difficult thing to change.
Chris Davis: 20:18 Yes, oh man.
Sasha Katz: 20:21 So yes, I completely agree with you, but think about that, and that’s exactly what it is.
Chris Davis: 20:30 Yeah, and just to end it on that note, I would say that the challenge as a company is we’re challenging behavior internally and externally. Internally, how do people behave on the job? Some people we bring in with a lot of experience and a lot of baggage, right?
Sasha Katz: 20:30 True.
Chris Davis: 20:52 So how do we change that approach to fit the culture and how do we assess that they’ll be able to make that change? Others come in with no experience, so this is their first, ‘Oh this is what jobs should be.’ It’s like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, that’s not the case-‘
Sasha Katz: 21:05 Sadly mistaken.
Chris Davis: 21:06 Right? Then on the other side, it’s out users have to understand that people are interacting with marketing differently now with all of these tools, we’re seeing a behavior change. In fact, what I remember when Facebook didn’t have videos, remember that?
Sasha Katz: 21:24 Oh yeah.
Chris Davis: 21:25 Now, you can’t Instagram. Everything is video driven, you have these short clips they auto play, so behavior is changing, and the question is what are you doing to stay in line or ahead of it? You’re either driving that change like you said, “You’re in the pool or you’re on the side like-“
Sasha Katz: 21:44 That’s exactly right.
Chris Davis: 21:44 “Look at all that change happening. Look at all that behavior change.”
Sasha Katz: 21:47 That’s the difficult way, right?
Chris Davis: 21:50 Yeah, and the enemy to that is what we’ve always done it this way.
Sasha Katz: 21:50 Right.
Chris Davis: 21:54 Right? You sit back in your corner saying, “Oh I’m not changing, we’ve always done it this way.” So I would challenge you listeners, if you’ve heard those terms, or if any of this is resonant with you to really think about it, think through it. Business is not just single, it’s not one dimensional. Technology is one aspect and whatever you as a person, whatever you lack in terms of leadership and personal development is going to show through in your business, who you hire, your culture, how you do things.
Chris Davis: 22:25 So I’m so glad you came on today just to us … This was some personal development empowerment today, Sasha, and I hope to do more. If someone wants to connect with you Sasha, how do they connect with you?
Sasha Katz: 22:44 My email is probably best, or you can find me on LinkedIn, first name’s Sasha, last name, Katz, K-A-T-Z, and I live in LinkedIn all day, so you can guarantee that I will respond to you.
Chris Davis: 22:59 I live in LinkedIn, that sounds like a tagline actually.
Sasha Katz: 23:03 I’m keeping them in business.
Chris Davis: 23:04 Right. Alright Sasha, I appreciate it. Thanks for stoppin’ by the studio, thank you for baring with the studio.
Sasha Katz: 23:12 Yes, thank you for having me.
Chris Davis: 23:13 But this is great and I really appreciate it.
Sasha Katz: 23:15 Thank you.
Chris Davis: 23:18 Thank you for listening to this episode of ActiveCampaign Podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. We covered a lot, we talked about the power of a mindset transferable skillsets, be remaining human in the digital age, using technology as a facilitator and not a replacement. All of these aspects are up against or we need to learn how to work with effectively in the new age because business has changed forever.
Chris Davis: 23:48 Business has changed forever, but you know what, personal development is very much the same, it is a commitment, it is something that you as business owners, you say, ” These are our values. This is what we will do, this is what we won’t do,” and that all starts with you. So you coming to making the decision of starting a business or making a shift in the business, adapting a tool, these are all things that we carry daily, and we may not be specifically calling them out and saying, “Hey, I’m doing this. I’m gonna make a big decision today.” But most of the time they’re just on the spot, and our life, your life right now where you’re at is a sum of the choices that you’ve made, that the sum of all the choices that you made equals your current position. If you don’t like it, you have the power to change it, in and out of business, just in life. This was …
Chris Davis: 24:44 I really hope you all enjoyed this. If this is your first time listening to the podcast, what are you waitin’ for? It’s time to subscribe, join the podcasting family, go to iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, SoundCloud, anywhere where you can access a podcast feed, we are there. While you’re there, I would love for you to leave a five star rating or a review. I wanna give a shout out to everybody who has left a review for the podcast on iTunes. Thank you so much, and gonna name a couple names, Keisha, David, I read it, thank you so much. I’ll keep shoutin’ you all out, as you provide the stars and reviews, but I can’t thank you enough for that. It’s how we get the word out, and get valuable content in the ears of business owners. No business should fail, no business should fail that has access to such tutelage, advice, user experience, business owner experience as you’re getting on the podcast. In fact, if you are finding yourself approaching failure or if you’re struggling a bit, we’ve got resources for you. ActiveCampaign.com/Training. You can sign up for a complimentary one on one, where you can talk to somebody from our success team. They are real human beings waiting to talk to you. This is not an automated service, you can talk to them about where you’re stuck, what you’re trying to do, and sometimes that’s all it takes is another ear.
Chris Davis: 26:09 If you wanna take more of a self-guided approach, we have the education center at ActiveCampaign.com/Learn, where you can read at your own pace as you will. Guys, you can watch videos, attend webinars, read manuals, we’ve got it all, help documentation, it’s all there. We are committed, we’ve made the decision to ensure that you have all you need to succeed.
Chris Davis: 26:32 This is the ActiveCampaign Podcast, the small business podcast to help you scale and propel your business with automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.