A Day in the Solstie Life: Andrew Hudson, Business Development
My first job out of college wasn’t for me. Call it poor due diligence or just plain naivety, but I took a position at a startup that was unable to deliver on a lot of big promises with regard to culture and opportunity. I knew my next job needed to value both my professional and personal growth. Enter Solstice.
My first day at Solstice was September 18, 2017. I still remember the nerves I had — excited for the opportunity but perhaps a bit nervous that I wasn’t qualified (it’s a feeling I’m sure many new hires have experienced). However, my nerves quickly dissipated when I met my fellow “Solsties.” I still think back to my first day because it’s a perfect reflection of what it’s like to work here: You may often be given tasks or responsibilities that seem too big, but with the help of your coworkers, anything is possible.
I work on the business development (or what we call BD) team at Solstice, with a focus on global lead generation for Hive, which is part of our parent company, Kin + Carta. In sales terminology, it’s an inside sales role. From a macro perspective, my job is to find and qualify new opportunities for business to send down the pipeline. Follow me as I take you through what a typical day in the life looks like on the Solstice BD team.
6:15 AM: Wake Up & Commute
I know there are studies that say you should ignore your phone before getting out of bed, but I need about five minutes of dog- and/or sports-related videos before putting the pedal to the metal. Next, I shower, get dressed, and check my email. At the moment, part of my job is supporting Hive—one of our sister companies based in London — so I often wake up to a few responses from folks across the pond.
My commute is about twenty minutes door to door. I wish I could say that I listen to some sort of motivational or newsworthy podcast in the mornings, but I find it helpful to listen to comedy. Lately, I’ve been listening to either Pardon My Take, a sports comedy podcast, or Going Deep with Chad and JT, which is a nonsensical yet disarmingly uplifting pop-culture podcast. The lightheartedness puts me in a good mood, which isn’t exactly automatic during a winter commute in Chicago.
7:00 AM: Prep For The Day
My favorite hours to prospect are in the early morning. Prospecting can mean anything from sending somebody a personalized message on LinkedIn to a cold call. One of my favorite parts about sales at Solstice is that there isn’t a minimum number of dials per day or emails I need to send. Instead, reps are given goals and creatively collaborate on the best way to succeed.
8:45: News Break
Once I’ve gotten the bulk of my individual work done for the day, I like to take a few minutes to take a break, catch up on some news, and clean the slate before stepping into team meetings. The news can be overwhelming these days, but I’m a big fan of CNN’s “5 Things” you need to know daily email newsletter.
9:00 AM: Global Stand Up & Sprint Planning
Without fail, the BD team takes five minutes to joke around before we get into the weeds of the day. We are a growing team but remain extremely close. I’ve been here just over a year, and I’ve already been to two team weddings.
During global standup, the other BD team members and I check in to cover goals/tasks for the day as well as any blockers, or impediments, to the workday. This quick check-in allows us to ask for help and bounce ideas off of one another. Sprint planning is where we retro on completed tasks from the previous week, outline upcoming priorities, and then commit to work for the upcoming week.
9:45 AM: Prospecting
I could have anywhere from one to five prescheduled calls with potential clients. It’s a better day when I have five. The purpose of these calls is to figure out one simple question: Is there an opportunity for our company to do business with Company X?
If a business need is identified on the intro call, my job is to pass it along as a qualified lead. If not, I move on to the next.
10:30 AM: Check-In With London
This is a brand-new addition to my day. Since September 2018, I have been primarily working for and prospecting on behalf of Hive, a health-care innovation and communications agency. These check-ins are always different, depending on what’s in the sales pipeline. Sometimes we focus on prospecting strategy or messaging, and other times we retro on previous meetings with prospects.
11:00 AM: 1-on-1s
One of my favorite parts of Solstice’s culture is that the door is always open. Once a week, I have a check-in with my BD manager to ensure that I’m hitting my goals but also to make sure our work environment is healthy and productive. Before I began here, I had never been at a job where my own feedback was this valued.
Even our CEO, Kelly Manthey, has weekly office hours where you can pick her brain about the company and its direction. If you want time with somebody, all you have to do is ask.
11:30 AM: Prospecting
Emails, calls, and LinkedIn messaging. I try to catch people during their lunch breaks to see if they want to chat.
12:30 PM: Lunch & Learn
There are usually two or three Lunch and Learns at Solstice each week. These are typically open forums that foster discussion on everything from technology to culture.
This week, we are lucky enough to host a family from Lurie Children’s Hospital: the beneficiary and host of Chicago Dance Marathon (CDM). Solstice is a primary sponsor for CDM and represents one of many ways Solstice engages with the community.
1 PM: Messaging Workshop
Time to hit the whiteboard! The most challenging part of being in BD is crafting a message that stands out and demonstrates value. Messaging workshops are great ways to bounce ideas off one another and experiment with different tactics. I’d be lying if I said every session was a success, but it only takes one to make it worthwhile.
1:30 PM: Extended Sales Call
So you’ve had an introductory call with the Chief Digital Officer at Company X, and he or she has expressed a need — now what?
Without giving away too much of the Solstice secret sauce, I will say that this is the stage where we dive deep. Company X might need a partner for an upcoming project, but there could be a dozen reasons why it may or may not be the right fit. It’s my job to help uncover whether it’s best to continue a conversation or disqualify the opportunity.
3:00 PM: Misc
If possible, I try to avoid any meetings during this time. Having a cushion of time blocked off for miscellaneous activities ensures I always have time to prepare some last-minute follow-ups or get out some last-ditch emails so I can make the most of tomorrow.
5:15 PM: Commute Home
I will usually finish the second half of the podcast I started on the ride into work.
5:45 PM: Gym
One of my New Year's resolutions is to bring more variety to my workouts. As I write this article, I’m mentally preparing for my first-ever yoga class. I hope folks in class are as nice as the Solsties were on my first day because I am terrified.
7 PM: Dinner
It’s a lot more exciting when I go out to eat. I moved to Wicker Park, a neighborhood of Chicago, a few months ago, so I’m trying to cross all the good restaurants off my bucket list.
7:30 PM: Read & Write
Currently, I’m reading My Early Life, a memoir from Winston Churchill’s youth and early political career. If I choose to write instead, I usually write down a few notes from the day in a notebook where I like to keep random ideas/reflections.
8:30 PM: Movie Time
I’m in the process of watching every Best Picture winner from the Academy Awards since its 1934 inception.
Want to work alongside Andrew? We are hiring for our Business Development team in Chicago. Check out our careers page for more information and to apply.