We live in a VUCA (volatile uncertain complex ambiguous) world and the complexity and pressure is only increasing. I don’t believe that we are evolving fast enough as a species to cope. Account Managers are the engine of the business and while you wouldn’t run the engine of your car into the ground this is what I often see happening with many account management professionals. We’ve found that a way to deal with this VUCA world is through the practice of mindfulness. Companies such as Google, Bank of America and Salesforce offer mindfulness training for their staff. In its simplest form, mindfulness is being aware of the present moment. It has been proven to reduce anxiety and to help you to focus and reduce distraction which is useful for an Account Manager whose job it is to see over the horizon and identify both business opportunities as well as anticipate any risks to the account. Story I was preparing for my first meeting with the new CIO of a large Australian bank. I had so much to cover with him about our account (our largest direct account in the APAC region) and what we could do for the bank moving forward, but so little time within which to convey the information. I had no idea where to begin. So, I sat mindfully in the bank’s basement car park just before the meeting and meditated for twenty minutes. Out of nowhere appeared an inverse pyramid in my mind, including our solution and the bank’s strategic goals. When I met with the CIO, I asked him if I could take him through the simple diagram over the next twenty minutes and give him ten minutes back in his diary. Together with his right-hand executive, he enthusiastically huddled around the tiny table with me and we had one of the most insightful and productive meetings I’ve ever had. My favourite moment was when he took the pen from my hand and started adding to my diagram. After the meeting, his right-hand executive called me into a room, complimented me on the model and said, “I too have a model. Would you mind if I showed you how it works?” He then proceeded to take me through a fifteen-minute whiteboard session on how we could work together on his model. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t using my model. The point is, I had his buy-in and we were riding off into the sunset together. Never underestimate the power of some quiet, mindful time before an important meeting when you aren’t sure where to begin. PRO TIPS • Begin with three slow mindful breaths. Pay attention to how you are feeling. Ask yourself, “How can I best serve my customer today?” • When managing your client’s expectations, be present and attentive to every moment. Avoid being distracted by the past or the future while engaging in conversation. There will always be a temptation to refer to historical moments in the account or what is possible in the future, however the number one priority is to listen carefully to the client sitting in front of you. Be aware and respectful of every word spoken and heard.

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