A Baltimore-native, Charles Pridgen majored in International Business and Finance, but realizing that he didn’t fit into the financial field he pursued a career in sales and eventually decided to break into startups. Charles previously worked at LivingSocial and Salesforce. He is currently working at a startup called Loggly, a cloud-based log management and search platform. Charles is also an organizer of the Black Professionals Network (BPN) where he seeks to build a community that fosters diversity through the power of networking and which has now grown into a massive success and a source of inspiration among people in the Bay Area.
Click here to signup for the BPN event on Feburary 23rd, celebrating the Black History Month (use code “BHM2017” for a discount)
|Years in Tech||4|
|Grew Up||Baltimore, MA|
|Current Job||Account Executive|
- Always be curious at what a company you’re applying to is doing Research their going to market strategy and any challenges they might be facing. Add value to the conversation.
- Resilience is key in the startup world. Be able to adapt to change because you never know what could hit you. Be comfortable with hearing the word no. Just keep going until you get to YES.
- Be a closer. Don’t sell the product itself, but sell its value.
- Focus on your clients. Listen to what they need to be successful and build around that.
- Your network is your net worth. Put time and effort in relationships. Build your brand and bring value to your conversations. Connections are individuals in your life who could be your mentors that could help you get to the next spot.
[1:15] Charles’ background: Working at a bike shop as early as 14 years old, Charles talks about his college experience as a resident assistant and getting a scholarship to whet his appetite for traveling where he traveled to Ecuador for 6 months
[5:00] His transition into tech: Why Charles didn’t think the financial landscape was an environment he fit into and landing a job at a startup up called LivingSocial through a cold email
[7:35] From east to west: Getting laid off at LivingSocial was a humbling experience for Charles. That led him to fly to San Francisco and started hustling.
[11:09] His job search experience: Interviewing with the biggest names in tech (Dropbox, Google, Slack), Charles received many rejections until landing a job at Salesforce.
Show Notes (focus on the Stepping Stones):
[12:25]Charles describes the different roles at Salesforce and the roles he played
[14:00] How to get through the interview process – Have a good story. Don’t sell the product itself. Sell the value. Learn about the resources Charles tapped into.[15:30] Charles’s biggest motivation to keep going: Charles tells a story about his dad who got stricken with cancer and became a walking miracle. – Anything is possible! [17:52] Charles’ motto: Keep going until you get your yes. [18:15] Charles’ current work at Loggly, a cloud-based log management system and the importance of focusing on your clients.
[19:53] How Charles became the “mayor” of San Francisco: The power of having a support system and the impetus behind the social platform, Black Professionals Network (BPN)
[21:15] It has collaborated with large companies like Salesforce, Uber, LInkedIn, Visa, Yahoo, etc where they host charity and networking events and partner with local organizations like Black Girls Code, Year Up, #YesWeCode to provide value-based networking opportunities and inspire people[24:10] With an impressive list of past speakers at BPN, they now have a network of about 2,000 people and possible partnerships with few companies in their diversity initiatives.
[25:28] Networking strategies: Motivation + Focus + Value
[26:30] The Lightning Round
Imagine if you were dropped in San Francisco again with no connections, you only had $100, and you wanted to get to the same point you’re at now, what would be the most impactful thing that you would do to kick it off?
- Charles would buy as many cases of water, stand in a very busy corner, hand out bottles of water to people he meets in the hope that it would spark conversation and grant him access to opportunities.
What piece of music or video helped you get through this process?
- The movie – Wolf of Wall Street
What is the one piece of advice you would want someone to know who’s starting on this journey?
- Determine your skill set. Pick your position. Ask yourself what role you’re really going to play within the tech ecosystem and from there, choose your industry that will drive your passion. Then begin to build your brand.
- Invest in yourself. Know what you want and be a go-getter.
- Keep hustling until you get that yes.
What is the one thing that you fundamentally believe in that you changed your mind on after this process of breaking into sales?
- It’s not what you know but who you know. Your network is your net worth.
What is the one thing you’re looking for in candidates who are applying for sales jobs at startups or big companies?
- Hustle. Be a closer.
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