Special Guest: Helen Fanucci

Where you can find Helen:


[Jon Dabach] 00:00
Today on the relationship Revival Show, I’m joined by Helen Fanucci. Helen is an MIT trained engineer who has built her reputation and career managing teams responsible for billions of dollars of quota. She developed the love your team system of sales management. Over a 25 year career on the front lines at top tech companies including Apple, Sun Microsystems, IBM and Microsoft. Helen’s first book, Love your team, a survival guide for sales managers in a hybrid world launch November 1 on Amazon. She also hosts the love your team podcast, which focuses on retaining top talent, and building high performance teams.

[Jon Dabach] 00:40
You’re listening to the relationship revival podcast with Jon Dabach, also known as Mr. Spirituality. That’s me. I’m your host giving you insights and guidance from over 10 years in the field of this amazing journey we call romance on this show, I go over everything you need to know about how to get into a relationship, how to get the most out of a relationship, and sometimes even how to gracefully end a relationship without pulling your hair out and going crazy.

[Jon Dabach] 01:08
And occasionally, I’m even joined by new and old friends who are also relationship experts to bring you guidance and wisdom with new perspectives. Thanks for stopping by. Helen Fanucci. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.

[Helen Fanucci] 01:22
Thank you, I’m delighted to be here.

[Jon Dabach] 01:25
I am really excited to talk to you because you’re not my typical guest. So I usually have therapists, psychiatrists, I usually have people who are in the dating space. But when I heard that the name of your system was love your team, I kind of went, Okay, what’s going on here?

[Jon Dabach] 01:46
You know, and I think that the relationships are universal in many ways. You know, obviously, there’s no physical intimacy. But the idea of, of kind of coming together in the business world and the Platonic world, in the romantic worlds have a lot of parallels or even parent the child. And so I’m curious to learn, selfishly hear from an expert on somebody who’s built teams, and built them in a sustainable way, you know, what your system is and how you developed it?

[Helen Fanucci] 02:20
Yeah, that’s a great question. Well, first of all, thank you for having me on your podcast, I have to admit, as well that this is not my typical podcast. And I was a little bit nervous, because love your team is not self-help. It’s not therapy, which is why I intentionally put love your team, a survival guide for sales managers in a hybrid world as my book title, because I didn’t want people to think it was self-help. But back to your question. So business is all about relationships.

[Helen Fanucci] 02:57
And I’ve found over the years that I’ve been managing teams over 25 years, remotely in person, that if you don’t build a strong relationship with your team members, you really can’t go many places with them, so to speak. And when I what I mean by that, is, you have better results and outcomes and business results, when you understand what matters to your team members on their terms, and support them.

[Helen Fanucci] 03:33
And that might seem obvious, but so many, so many managers today think, Okay, well, I’m the boss, they should do what I say or what have you. And that just doesn’t cut it. And so my system is actually the 17 critical conversations that managers need to have with their team.

[Helen Fanucci] 03:54
Because when I reflected on what I do, I have conversations. And my first category of conversations are called conversations of connection. And those are five chapters about building a connection, and a relationship with your team and understanding what matters to them. And that then creates a foundation that builds trust and enables you to do a lot of things because inevitably, circumstances change, strategies change, and you need to bring your team along with you. And so it’s super foundational.

[Jon Dabach] 04:35
Well, give me an example of one what is a conversation that you would start a connection based conversation with your sales team?

[Helen Fanucci] 04:42
Okay, so the first conversation of connection is your brand new manager and you’ve taken on a new team, you’re the boss, how do you introduce yourself to the team? And the reason I call that out is because I’ve been on the receiving then of managers who have no idea that that matters, it starts to set up the conversation, the relationship.

[Helen Fanucci] 05:07
So every chapter is, you know, how to identify the need for the conversation, you know, intended outcome, how to conduct the conversation, assessing if it worked. So what I do is I hold a team meeting, and then I outline pay first tell people about myself. So I have PowerPoint slides, three slides. And the first one

[Jon Dabach] 05:32
That you said three slides, and it’s not like 43,

[Helen Fanucci] 05:35
The first and the first slide is okay about myself. All right, I have two kids, I’m married, I enjoy traveling to Italy. And I like, you know, wine and pasta or whatever, you know, some things about myself. And and maybe it’s a fun fact. Yeah. My second,

[Jon Dabach] 05:55
I was like, a fun profile to me so far, why? I’m in.

[Helen Fanucci] 06:01
So where I live, right, you know. And so then my second slide is my management approach and philosophy. So they know what to expect of me. And the whole orientation of why I put it together, and I’ll go into what is because this is about what’s useful to them.

[Helen Fanucci] 06:22
So they know how to interact with me and what matters, it’s not about really me and how great I am. So my philosophy is, you know, results, orientation, so clarity of job, and what’s expected clarity of expectations, people first, no surprises, you know, just I want to be given the opportunity to lean in and health, culture matters. So those are those kinds of things.

[Helen Fanucci] 06:52
And I will talk about that and kind of give examples. And then the third slide is what’s next? And what’s next is a one on one conversation with me, I’ll set it up, you don’t need to prepare anything, I just want to get to know you. The second chapter is that first one on one conversation and kind of what I go through or just what I don’t, what I want to learn from them, maybe some probing questions I might ask like, you know, it’s really up to what they want to tell me about.

[Helen Fanucci] 07:26
And then the third chapter is my weekly or bi weekly, one on one cadence and how that structured because I have them create the agenda, because I want to be helpful to them and empowering of them. It also helps me assess if they’re on track or not. So those are three of the five chapters.

[Jon Dabach] 07:47
So you brought up it’s so it’s interesting, because there’s a lot of one on ones. So realistically, what’s the cap? You know, like, if you have a sales team of 100, you’re not going to be doing that. So what’s like the sweet spot for that style?

[Helen Fanucci] 08:03
Yeah, so I would say 12 to 15, direct reports maximum, and at 12. Direct reports. My system, if you will, takes about 15% of manager’s time in a given month, assuming a 40 hour work week. If you have more than 12, you probably have managers that work for you.

[Helen Fanucci] 08:24
Yeah, sure. And so then you have okay, though, that kind of conversations with your direct reports. And then on quarterly, depending again, how big your team is, then I’ll have a skip level one on one. And if it’s a bigger, you know, it just, it depends in flexes with, depending on how big the team is.

[Jon Dabach] 08:45
I’m gonna veer off a little bit, but I have a question that, you know, I am blessed that I don’t have a big team. It’s kind of kind of designed my business that way. But I call it blessed because it works for me. I mean, you know, so there’s, I get to meet people this way. I know, I know, there are days where I wish I did have a team, huge team. But I’ve heard this from a lot of my clients.

[Jon Dabach] 09:10
And I’ve heard this from a lot of my peers that it’s increasingly more difficult to kind of keep Millennials engaged and committed and the sense of loyalty in the workforce has gone out the window. And I assume you have some thoughts on why being that you’ve worked in this space for so long as a sales manager, and especially in the tech space where I feel like people kind of change jobs almost like they change their socks sometimes in that in that world.

[Helen Fanucci] 09:39
Yeah, so it’s a great question. So the first thing I would say is people leave their managers more often than they leave their companies.

[Helen Fanucci] 09:51
So I’m very intentional about finding out what matters to my team. And nowadays in you know, the Panther That pandemic showed us that we can work effectively remotely. So people expect flex flexibility of not only where they were, but when they work, they also want to be known as whole human beings with lives and ambitions that matter, not just sort of a work robot like my had been in the past.

[Helen Fanucci] 10:20
And I know that that’s uncomfortable to a lot of managers who have who are traditional, and it can feel like it’s a little too touchy feely or something like that. I mean, I know, some managers like are very concerned about being too personal with people. But if you don’t understand what matters to that to your individual, like, do they want to get promoted? Do they want flexibility?

[Helen Fanucci] 10:47
Do they have a child or children, they need to drop off at 8am every morning to school, and so you don’t want to, you know, have a staff meeting at that time. Now, those things may seem like small things, but you’re communicating that you matter. I’ve helped people get career advancements, etc. The millennials, I have Millennials on my team, I have Gen z’s, you know, and then I kind of find out like what they care about. And it’s usually creating opportunities to understand how business works, and meet new people and be mentored.

[Helen Fanucci] 11:25
And you can’t hold on to people. Meaning, if you can hold on too tight, they’re going to leave, they’re going to leave anyway, you’ve got to support them on their career trajectory. And there, there’s your stop along their way, if you will, of their career.

[Helen Fanucci] 11:44
And so I embrace that I accept it, I help people get promoted, then I become an attractor of talent, because people, the reputation is that you’re a good person to work with. And you help actually, people with their career goals and ambitions. I’m super chilled with people who have kids at home, I was a single parent for 24 years raising kids by myself with a full time job and it is so hard.

[Jon Dabach] 12:21
Yeah, I can’t imagine I have four kids. And when my wife goes away to the market for 30 minutes, I have a panic attack. So wow, I’m exaggerating. I mean, you know, but it’s, it’s hard for sure. And if you have to do that, and show up to an appointment, and then, you know, I think anybody who has kids is has been on a zoom where the kids are in the background, and you kind of have to add this disclaimer of you might hear someone

[Helen Fanucci] 12:49
Say, you know, what’s great about the pandemic? Is it normalized, and humanized us. We know more about each other than we did before. It’s and I think that’s actually a really positive thing.

[Jon Dabach] 13:02
Yeah, that’s the’s the silver lining is it kind of made, I think the crumbling of the corporate facade is a good thing for America. You know, it’s like, sometimes it’s nice to realize that there’s a person on the other end of that transaction, which is why I think I I connected with your system, the idea that its relationship based, keeping other people’s goals in mind, and then figuring out how to support their goals. Now, let me ask you a question.

[Jon Dabach] 13:30
While we’re on this idea of supporting their goals, do you ever find that their goals are somewhat conflicting with what you would like out of them? And then how do you wrestle with that?

[Helen Fanucci] 13:41
Well, there’s fundamentals of the job. So for example, sellers, there’s achieving quota, there’s building pipeline, there’s, you know, kind of that’s the ante into the game of that job. Sure, if you don’t want to do that. It’s not the right job. Yeah. And sometimes people are in a role.

[Helen Fanucci] 14:01
And then because of new ways of doing things, we’re evolving as a business, the role changes out from under them, or they’re still in the job, and it’s not a good fit any longer. So how can I help people evolve and find that good, fit job? So that absolutely happens. I would also say that, in my experience, if it’s not working for me, it’s not working for them. And you know, as Brene Brown says, clarity is kindness.

[Helen Fanucci] 14:39
And so also having kind of a adult human conversation like, Hey, here’s what I’m seeing, you know, it’s usually behavior or what have you, how do you see it and really trying to understand what their point of view is and what’s going on with them?

[Jon Dabach] 14:57
Look at you quoting Brene Brown and you thought you were I’m gonna be at home on this podcast,

[Helen Fanucci] 15:02
A lot of birthday. There’s one person in the world that I could have dinner with, it would be Brene.


[Jon Dabach] 15:10
Well, let’s, let’s send the message out. I mean, come on. Let’s make it happen. Alan. I love that idea. How much of the one on one meeting has to kind of be balanced with creating this team culture? In the company?

[Helen Fanucci] 15:30
It’s a really great question. The reality is, in most sales organization, including mine, my sellers are on their own quota and have their own customers. So they’re a team in name only. Now, if you take that my seller is the leader of I’m, I worked for Microsoft.

[Helen Fanucci] 15:56
So it’s a big cross functional team. They’re a leader of a team, nobody reports to my seller, but a cross functional kind of dotted line team, they lead that team of like 35 to 50 people for large accounts. And they’re expected to be able to create a culture across that team that’s consistent with people wanting to work with them, and feel valued and included and communication and all that kind of stuff. So we’re culture tends to tends to show up is how we work across the organization.

[Helen Fanucci] 16:37
I’m, you know, a large account, you know, sales leader, so Honeywell, Boeing, big companies are our customers. And that just takes a village really, to mobilize the resources to deliver value to the customer. You know, and when I said a few minutes ago about really wanting to understand what matters to my team on their terms, it’s actually really the same skills that I expect that my sellers have to have with their customers, but also with the teams they manage, because customers want, you know, what they want on their terms. So it’s actually, you know, I sometimes say my number one customer are my team members.

[Jon Dabach] 17:21
Yeah, so it’s kind of a top down philosophy, where they learn the interaction skills, if by nothing else, just by watching how you interact with them. And they can kind of pass those skill sets on to their customers, and then they build the relationships in a really healthy way to drive business.

[Helen Fanucci] 17:39
Yeah, for sure. And I also try not to put my ego first. So one of the things I do is I want to make sure my sellers are supported, I talked about that. Well, when they’re doing a big presentation at a customer executive meeting, I’m in the background with my video off taking notes on actions because I want them to be running that show.

[Helen Fanucci] 18:05
So I know that might seem odd or weird that a manager is you know, taking notes on their behalf, but enables me to debrief with them and also coach them and enables them to be present, present without worrying about action items, or, you know, they can focus on the conversation at hand.

[Jon Dabach] 18:25
Great. Was there a specific experience either at Microsoft or one of your other companies that really drove you? And was the impetus of writing the book? Or was it kind of an amalgam of things that’s happened over your career?

[Helen Fanucci] 18:43
Honestly, it was twofold. One is I felt like I had something positive to say. And when I met my husband, we got married last July when I met him for granulations. Thank you. When I met him four years ago, he’s like, you know, and during COVID He’d hear me talk, he’s like, you know, you shouldn’t write a book.

[Helen Fanucci] 19:04
Because what you do is really different. I’m like, No, I’m it’s not that different. So he was really encouraging. The other thing is, I had been on the receiving end of not so great leadership and management and I was kind of irritated and pissed. And so there were some like, you know, what,

[Jon Dabach] 19:24
Passive aggressive bone to pick by writing a book.

[Helen Fanucci] 19:27
And I heard I have heard that that kind of fuels energy and so I decided I was going to write a book and so well, it’s

[Jon Dabach] 19:39
Probably one of the most clear it’s probably one of the healthiest forms of passive aggression. I think you could have where you’re channeling this, you know, resentment you might have had for bad leaders and fueling new good leaders in the in the world by putting it all in to this neat little package that people can get on Amazon. So, you know, bravo. It’s better than you know, its better than King somebody’s car. Oh,

[Helen Fanucci] 20:11
You know what, I’ve been in the tech world my whole career, which is a very long time. And, you know, it’s just you got to roll with things. And if you don’t like what’s happening, you can wait because usually things change, or you can navigate yourself into another role or another environment.

[Helen Fanucci] 20:30
And I’d much rather be in an organization with a great culture and leaders, I have respect, and there’s a lot of jobs I can do. But that’s a differentiator. For me, that matters more than the specifics of the job.

[Jon Dabach] 20:47
I couldn’t agree more. I mean, that the old aphorism of you pick your boss, not your job. That’s that really is I at least personally, what I found to be true? Let’s looking at it from the employee side, let’s say you’re on a sales team, and you don’t like your managers, communication styles, you don’t like how they’re building the team? Have you found because you’ve been on both ends, right?

[Jon Dabach] 21:10
You’ve been in very large organizational structures, we didn’t like your leaders, have you found other than writing a book about your complaints? A way to communicate with someone about how their style just isn’t meshing with you? Or do you just kind of have to stomach it and roll with the punches and look for another position somewhere?


[Helen Fanucci] 21:30
Well, I have spoken up and I have communicated where, you know, something might not work. Or I said, you know, I really feel like that was inappropriate conversation, as an example, because I have, why don’t want to say anything more right now. But I’ve had inappropriate conversations that people had with me, and I just said, you know, I’m uncomfortable with that. And I feel like that was inappropriate. And

[Jon Dabach] 22:02
Advocating for yourself, for sure. I think that’s hugely important.

[Helen Fanucci] 22:05
Yeah. And then that caused the person to be filled to feel defensive and shared with me a bunch of things. And I realized in it was a gift, really, because in his communication to me, I realize, Oh, my goodness, he has all of these conversations about me, they have really nothing to do with me.

[Helen Fanucci] 22:28
But it made me realize that we had a mismatch that was greater than I had realized. So I navigated myself to another role. Because I also believe that I have to focus on what, what is in my control, and changing others isn’t in my control. And he had positional authority over me, obviously, in other scenarios where, you know, I’ve spoken up and I’ve said, hey, you know, I, I felt, you know, shut down.

[Helen Fanucci] 23:02
And here’s what I was trying to say, because that also happened. The manager on the receiving end of that was, Oh, I didn’t realize it, I didn’t look at it that way, I see your point.

[Helen Fanucci] 23:14
And they were open to that conversation. So it goes, it goes both ways. And I think I’ve also been, well, I for sure, I’ve been in the spot where I thought, you know, am I putting who I am on the shelf, for the sake of my job, and that’s too high of a cost to pay. So I’m not willing to do that anymore. And in the past, I probably have done it more than I should have.

[Jon Dabach] 23:46
I think that’s probably typical of young employees. I hate saying it, but I think I think women tend to, you know, be pushed into that position more so than men where they kind of put their own identity at the door a little quicker than men. I’m glad to see it’s starting to change. I’m not saying that that was you know, a year situation, but from what I’ve seen, from clients walking through my door as a counselor, so I think that’s true, you have to kind of know what your boundaries and what your limits are.

[Jon Dabach] 24:14
And that’s, that’s a good place to start. The other thing I might suggest is buy a copy of Helen’s book, Love your team. Just casually leave it around the office, you know, naturally have it you know, on a zoom call, just like oh, what’s that you’re reading? It’s this fascinating book.


[Helen Fanucci] 24:32
Yeah, and I will say because I know some people feel uncomfortable, uncomfortable with the L word and business. My view is Love is an action, loving, you know, and it’s about the actions of supporting caring for your team having empathy.

[Helen Fanucci] 24:50
And I first came up with it in July of 21 when I was giving a presentation on retaining your top talent, and what was authentic to me He was to use the word love, even though I was nervous about using it in a business conference. But I got a lot of great feedback. And so I went with it. Well, I’ll

[Jon Dabach] 25:09
Share with you something that I tell a lot of my clients I was, I was on track to be an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. It didn’t, didn’t take, but that’s how I kind of started in this field. And I still have great ties with wonderful friends in that world. But whenever I tell people about the nature of love, if you look at the Hebrew root word of love ahava the root is hob, which means to give with the idea of being generous in that action of love. And your system is based on that. What do you want?

[Jon Dabach] 25:37
Where do you want your career? How can I support you? And that is the foundation of any relationship when you switch from being needy to need did, right? When you actually figure out how I can be of service to this person, that’s when real relationships start to emerge and flourish.

[Jon Dabach] 25:54
And I think more managers would be shocked by adopting that simple philosophy that you’ve seemed to really systematize in a way that’s understandable in a non-woo woo way. That’s just, you know, nuts and bolts business, but from a really positive standpoint, and I think it’s more needed now than ever, in this hybrid world of, you know, remote locations. And really, what is the nature of building those relationships that sustain a good team?

[Helen Fanucci] 26:25
That’s really lovely. For you to say, that’s well, that’s great. Thank you for that. Yeah. And I’m an engineer by training. So maybe that’s why it’s systematized and broken down the way it is, but it’s intended to be actionable and accessible, and hopefully helpful.

[Jon Dabach] 26:45
I am I am very right brained. I’m a very creative person. I don’t like systems by nature, but what I found is that the systems work, you know, and I, when I started this, I thought, oh, you know, when I started having sessions, am I gonna fly by the seat of my pants, but you know, what structure is there for when you feel lost? And that’s and it’s this map and I have clung to structure.

[Jon Dabach] 27:11
I mean, I use the Gottman method, I use some EFT training. And this stuff for me, like when I feel like well, what’s missing here, that system that I’ve now internalized, you know, you learn it first cognitively. But then it just becomes part of your character.

[Jon Dabach] 27:25
That is such a useful tool, even in my own marriage. When things go wrong. I say, Well, what would I tell a client and then suddenly that sparks that part of the brain that’s like, Okay, well, let’s look in the filing cabinet of conflict resolution, and what are the four steps and, and suddenly, it’s like, Oh, I get it. And now I can move forward. And I think systems are hugely useful for EQ for everybody.

[Jon Dabach] 27:47
If your left brain you’re already in love with them, if your right brain, they are a crutch, that you need to learn to utilize more and, and I deal with a lot of artists being in the LA area. And when I start teaching them, like the reason systems exists specifically for them, they find it liberating.

[Jon Dabach] 28:04
So I’m a big fan. And don’t ever call yourself just an engineer. I mean, I think people who develop systems are some of the most useful I mean, what, how would you ever build anything without a system, you need the architecture, and you need the planning, so you can always veer off and be Frank Gehry. But if you don’t know how to make the building stand up. You can’t make the walls curved.

[Helen Fanucci] 28:24
So true. It’s a foundation. It’s foundational for me. Yeah,

[Jon Dabach] 28:29
Awesome. Well, Helen for Nucci I love what you’re doing. I hope everybody reads your book. Love your team. Love your team.com you can find the book there. It’s also on Amazon. Be sure to reach out and let Helen know I’m sure there’s ways you can connect on her on her website. Drop her a line, if you know if you know Brene Brown, let her know. Let her know how to get in touch with Alan.

[Jon Dabach] 28:52
But yeah, seriously read the book. If you’re in a sales organization. It sounds like she has that forward thinking that’s really going to connect with people of all ages. In this new world. We’re navigating where you really have to have a more holistic approach to to sales and to your team and to growth. In general. If you’re interested in learning how to get the absolute most out of your romantic relationships then you’re in luck because I have put together a free workshop or masterclass if you will about three secrets that people in happy relationships have discovered.

[Jon Dabach] 29:27
You can view the workshop and mister spirituality.com/three secrets again, it’s completely free. Just go there and watch it. It’ll help you on your journey give you some wisdom. Some things to think about. The website again is mrspirituality.com/threesecrets. That’s mrspirituality.com/the Number three, the word secrets. It’s all yours. Enjoy.


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