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Sales, Social Justice, and Authentic Self Expression with LinkedIn Top Sales Voice Nikki Ivey


In perhaps one of the most impactful episodes of She Sells Radio, the phenomenal Nikki Ivey shares her experience and journey as a black woman in the sales industry. I was recently recognized as a Salesforce Top Influencer of 2022 and shared that recognition with the most incredible group of some of the brightest minds in sales today. Nikki is a fellow Sales Top Influencer and as I connected with her, I knew she needed to be on the podcast.


Nikki is an award winning B2B Revenue Growth Leader and Sales Culture Subject Matter Expert. This one woman demand-gen engine was recently recognized as a 2020 LinkedIn Top Sales Voice, and Sales Success Summit Top 100 LinkedIn Sales Star. Nikki is coaching and training sales development reps through SDRDefenders, a company she co-founded.


In this episode, Nikki opens up about her experiences in sales including the good, the bad, and the ugly. But what stands out about her story is the honest truth she presents and the way she brings awareness to the topic of social justice in sales. Nikki is 100% herself in all ways, but she admits that it wasn’t always that simple. 


Show Notes:

[2:48] – Speaking and connecting with women is important to Nikki. She loves words, wigs, and women in charge!

[3:56] – For most of her career, Nikki was the only black woman on her team. She shares how she wanted to emulate a teacher she had.

[5:40] – Nikki knew she wanted to become an expert communicator.

[7:30] – Nikki shares an experience from her 20s that was eye-opening to her in the field of sales.

[9:18] – While working in car sales, Nikki learned many of the wrong things to do and the right strategies to connect with people.

[10:53] – One impactful moment for Nikki was an experience that demonstrated the toxic culture in car sales. She used it as her starting point.

[13:27] – Later in her sales career, Nikki found herself in car sales again in Texas. She shares another impactful experience.

[15:01] – Nikki shares the origin story of her journey with tech sales.

[16:25] – In her career, Nikki experienced a lack of diversity.

[18:01] – She demonstrates the unfortunate experience for women of color in the sales industry. We have to acknowledge the overall impact of culture on people’s success.

[19:02] – A career in sales is not the best for mental health.

[20:39] – Many people begin a career in sales very young and make early impressions when they aren’t mature enough to know better.

[23:18] – Nikki faced bipolar disorder and learned ways to manage her mental health.

[25:19] – Nikki presents herself in her own style and is very authentic in her self-expression. But she wasn’t always like that.

[27:03] – Sharing an experience she had, Nikki realized why she was hired.

[29:18] – She reached her boiling point in 2020 and didn’t want to teach others to shrink themselves.

[31:49] – Elyse and Nikki highly recommend the book Untamed and Nikki shares a powerful quote from it.

[34:50] – Do not be afraid to speak up. You are not crazy. The exclusion you are feeling is real.

[35:47] – Join a community that serves to lift each other up. Nikki co-founded a community designed to do just that.

[38:01] – Send Nikki a message on social media to connect with her.

Connect with Nikki Ivey:

LinkedIn  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Links and Resources:

Instagram  |  LinkedIn  |  YouTube

She Sells with Elyse Archer Home Page


Speaker 1: (00:02)
Welcome to she sales radio. I have a phenomenal guest for you today, and someone who I’m super excited to get to know better too, through this interview. For sure. And so if you follow me on social, you will see that I shared recently that I was very honored and also very humbled, uh, to be recognized by Salesforce as a top influencer for 2022. And to also share that recognition with just some of the most incredible brightest minds in sales today. And Nikki Ivy is a fellow Salesforce top influencer, who I connected with through the program. And when I checked out the work she’s doing and scrolled her LinkedIn, which is so it’s fun, by the way, it’s like a fun LinkedIn, which is so refreshing and just looked at the work she was doing. I was like, I’ve got to have this woman on the podcast.

Speaker 1: (00:52)
She’s amazing. So I’m gonna share a little bit from her bio and then we’re gonna get into what I know is gonna be a really powerful conversation that will probably span sales inclusion. And then certainly some really, I think just thought provoking other conversations as well. So Nikki is an award-winning B2B revenue growth leader and sales culture subject matter expert. This one woman demand gen engine was recently recognized as a 2020 LinkedIn top sales voice and sales success summit, top 100 LinkedIn sales star. Nikki is coaching and training sales development reps through SDR defenders, a company she co-founded, she’s also the C O of inclusive and the head of birth development for cultured perspective. So, Nikki, I don’t know how you do it all, but I am so blown away by you already welcome to she sells radio. We’re so glad to have you.

Speaker 2: (01:44)
Thank you so much. I’m, I’m so happy to be here. I, I know that, you know, most of the folks that listen are, are women and you know, many of the folks that come on are, are women as well. And that’s, you know, really important to me. I, I tell people if you, you know, wanna know a few things about me concisely, I love words, wigs and women in charge. And I think, oh, I love it. I think we’re gonna get to all of those today. So

Speaker 1: (02:12)
I love it. oh my gosh. I love that so much. And we were, you know, if you’re listening to the audio of this, go check out the YouTube video, cuz I told Mickey when we got on before we recorded, I was just like, I love your style. And it actually turned into, I think, a really a short but interesting conversation will probably get into at some point today about, um, just coming into your own and like really owning who you are, which, um, which I, I would love to talk with you about. And I’d actually love to start off with, so on your LinkedIn, you, you share something really powerful, which is 99% of the time in your 10 year sales journey, you were the only black woman on the team. And so I wanna hear from you, I I’d first love to know like what got you into sales in the first place. And then what was that like for you? And we’ll talk about how that’s transitioned into the work that you’re doing today.

Speaker 2: (03:06)
So the simplest, the one word answer to what got me in sales. It’s, that’s the words part, right. Of I have remember being in, when I was in kindergarten, my garden, my teacher, Mrs. Simpson, she commanded the respect and attention and support of people, you know, far senior than her in title. And she did that because she was an exemplary communicator. And I just, from that, it impressed me right in that moment, you know what I’m saying? I wanna be that she was a black woman. I didn’t, I hadn’t, I didn’t have very many black women teachers either at the time or in my life. And I just, you know, I was, I was proud of her. I was, again, I, I wanted to be like that. And so I became a very obnoxious child walking around, reading the dictionary, correcting people on their language. It took me a long time to grow outta correcting people, probably like into my early twenties. And I was like, oh, people hate that. Oh

Speaker 1: (04:16)

Speaker 2: (04:18)
But so, so that love of words, right? Became just this really high interest in communication. So I did, uh, college radio, I did theater and high school, whatever could give me access, not to just, just to the words themselves, but to the capacity of those words to move people, you know? And then as I got further in my education, I studied broadcast journalism. Um, you know, there’s a, a quote in journalism that it goes, you know, don’t worry about this is a loosely quota, right? Don’t worry about talking to the movers and the shakers talk instead to the moved and the shaken.

Speaker 1: (04:58)

Speaker 2: (04:59)
I carry that with me into a sales career because that’s really what we’re doing. Right? Sure. We care about the title of the person we wanna reach out to. But what we really want to know is what moves and shakes them. But so how did I give it sales? What, what does all those have to do with me? entering the, the profession. I not only became interested in, you know, how I communicate and the impacts it had on others, but the other way around as well. Right. And then studying people’s reactions to each other. So it’s around what year would this have been? I’m about to date myself, but anyway, I’m

Speaker 1: (05:35)
No, I do it all the time.

Speaker 2: (05:36)
Uh, so

Speaker 1: (05:36)
You’re rocking and 40 is young. Like let’s just call it it’s young. Thank you. So it

Speaker 2: (05:43)
Feels young. My spirit is youthful. So

Speaker 1: (05:46)
I feel like I’m permanently 20, at least in my mind. And I just kind of, I mean, I don’t know. I’ll probably feel that way until I’m gone from the planet, but anyway, keep, keep going, keep going.

Speaker 2: (05:57)
So, um, so yeah, it was, I was in my very early twenties, maybe 21 or two, and I, um, a friend of mine was going to buy a car and she wanted me to come with her. Right. I had, I had built a reputation among my friends as someone who was good at expressing thoughts, right. Expressing ideas, like in a, in a way that, that move people. And again, this made me able to recognize, uh, inauthentic, inauthentic, a lack of authenticity in communication from other people. So this is why she wanted me with her to go shop for cars. We go to the dealership, she gets this salesman and he is everything you’ve ever seen in a movie about a salesperson. Oh gosh. All right. All the aspects of culture that, that they glorify in these films. I mean, no shade, the films are fun, but you know, he was doing this thing and I wanted to actually wanted to help him.

Speaker 2: (06:54)
He seemed like a nice guy. So, so in my attempts to break him out of this veneer, right. That was keeping him from really being able to move my friend. Right. Um, it ended up feeling like I was to him. I’m sure. Like I was heckling him. Ah, yeah. And like, like imagine you’ve got a champion, right. Or at least somebody that could be, and then like someone comes into that sales conversation and like shuts it down. yeah. I’m sure he kinda felt like that. But anyway, I was just using words. I was just, you know, doing my best again, to engage him, to pull out of him that, which is real. And he didn’t happen. My friend didn’t buy a car, but as we’re walking out of the dealership that guy’s boss like follows chases me out the door and he is like, you got something kid, you ever consider career car sales.

Speaker 2: (07:48)
Oh, love that. Wow. It was crazy. So this is back in, I’m in Hinesville, Georgia at the time, uh, Hinesville, if you’re from there. and that’s where I went to high school. And um, so yeah, so I, I wasn’t doing anything at the time. This was before I, uh, ended up going back to school and you know, I’d learned a lot, what, again, the movies kind of tell you a lot about, you know, the bad parts of Cardales culture. And I have to tell you all that stuff is true. Is that true? Yeah. Ugh. I won’t sugar coat it. And it’s, it’s one of the reasons why I didn’t stay there. But when I was there, the things that I learned and the things that I practiced did become, you know, part of the foundation for the things that I was applying once I got to B2B tech sales, right?

Speaker 2: (08:37)
Yeah. Like my soul rejected a lot of that poor culture. So case in point I had a boss there that would be like, you know, when you see somebody walk onto this car lot, you know, they called them ups. Right. Walkups okay. When you see that up, you gotta imagine that’s the new purse you want. You gotta imagine that’s this. You have to see, he was telling me to see people as objects. Mm. Yeah. I don’t even know how to do that. And wow. And if that’s what it takes to be successful, I’m probably going to fail and I couldn’t afford to fail at that time. It was, you know, besides the things I just told you, it was, it was actually was a pretty difficult time in my life. So I couldn’t afford to fail. And I had to figure out though how to do this in a way that jives with, with who I am and a, a wonderful thing happened, right.

Speaker 2: (09:29)
A young woman, um, for context, Hinesville is, uh, adjacent to an army base, Fort Stewart. Okay. Mm-hmm and a, a young, this was at a time when the third infantry division from that base, almost everyone was deployed in Iraq. So you had a population of, you know, young army spouses who were kind of on their own. Right. Who were kind of just trying to figure it out. And these are people who come from other small towns who were all so young. So anyway, yeah. She walked to the car lot. Wow. It’s July in Georgia. Oh. She had a baby in a stroller. Oh wow. And she had $800 and they’re like, they call them, it’s, it’s really ugly. But there is a word for people who don’t appear that they’ll be able to afford a vehicle mm-hmm uh, in, in car sales, they call them.

Speaker 2: (10:30)
I don’t know if I wanna say it it’s hurtful. Yeah. But anyway, so, so they had written her off and further demonstrated to me that nothing about this culture had anything to do with actually helping people. But I let this be my opportunity. Right. What can I do to make sure that this woman and this baby are not walking back home, she came to us for help. Yeah. And you know, I had to fight, but we, we had cash cards in the back. Don’t play me. I was like, yeah, we have this cash card in the back. You all are asking for a two K I saw the sheet, I know what we paid for it. I’m gonna sell this woman, this car. And I did. And she cried and it was just this beautiful thing. Oh, wow. Yeah. It was in old mobile, 88.

Speaker 2: (11:19)
Mm. And, uh, it was pretty beat up, but it ran. I made sure like, I’m washed the car for her sprayed the tires with anyway, so this is when I discovered this is when I discovered you can, you don’t have to be, you know, the things you see on TV that make people hate sales people. And it wasn’t even the fact that it made people hate sales. People that put me off, it just didn’t feel good. Right. Right. It’s not kind to me. What, what will happen if I wake up a couple years from now and everything that I have to, you know, that’s tangible or everything that I have to show for this work that I’m doing is superficial is built at the expense of a, of other people, especially vulnerable, vulnerable people. So anyway, that stuck with me. And it’s certainly, um, given what I’m doing now with communities and stuff, certainly a through line, uh, in my career. Um, wow. The B2B tech sales piece also involves a car lot. I’ll tell the short version.

Speaker 1: (12:27)
That’s great.

Speaker 2: (12:28)
Yeah. I had, uh, I was selling, I was in Austin, Texas now, 2014 or so I was selling, uh, Kias and a gentleman came in to buy a car. We go on a test drive. We have a fun time because all of my test drives were fun. Uh

Speaker 1: (12:45)
And I’m sure. Well,

Speaker 2: (12:47)
No, I would ask this question. I would ask this question. I’d be like, all right. There’s two kinds of people, right? Uh, there’s the ones who have to turn on the AC, as soon as they get in the car. And there are the ones that have to get the music on, as soon as they get in the car, which one are you?

Speaker 1: (13:01)
oh, this is good.

Speaker 2: (13:03)
So I would ask them that,

Speaker 1: (13:04)

Speaker 2: (13:05)
One are you? And then they would, they would, again, they would, we would have just like you and I are doing, we would have this conversation. And then we’re not talking about the car, the, the outside, like a lot of the time, they’re like, I’ve wanted this one, but I wanted it in that color. And then I’m like, well, we’re inside this car right now. Do it really matter? What color

Speaker 1: (13:22)
I love it. You enjoy

Speaker 2: (13:24)
Yourself here. And so get through with the, the test drive, this guy’s like, uh, I, you know, you were here when I first came to look at the cars that was a Saturday, you were here 12 hours. I’m back. You’re here all day. Again, like with the skillset you have, did you know that you could be in an air conditioned building? Um, what’s next and talk on the phone. And I was like, I had no idea. I really didn’t. Mm-hmm I really didn’t like, I understood like technology exists and there are really smart computery, sciencey people that make it work, but it had not occurred to me that someone had to sell that. So he was like, yeah, you gotta meet my boss. I did meet his boss. I got the job. And the rest is, I guess, sales history.

Speaker 1: (14:12)
Oh my gosh. I love it. I, this is so fun for me just because I get to hear, you know, the origin story. And so, so from there for you, tell us about, um, I guess, tell us about that experience that I wanna talk about. Like I said, like on your LinkedIn, it’s like 99% of the time you were the only black woman on the team. So what was that like for you?

Speaker 2: (14:34)
So luckily that very first job, part of that 1%, that, that very first job I worked for a man named Scott lease. Um, he, uh, was SP of sales at a company called outbound engine at the time. Yeah. And, um, that team was extremely diverse and it wasn’t just diverse in any like one demographic. Yeah. I, it was the most women I’d ever worked with. And, and for in large parts since right. It was most women, it was the most people of color. It was, you know, the most people, you know, who identified as trans non-binary was all of these think different wow. Ages, different walks of life. And I thought that that’s what it’s like everywhere. Ah, yeah. And so first just learning that that was not the case was a literal culture shock. Right. And, and then experiencing everything that comes with that lack of diversity, um, it impacts outcomes in, in ways that I don’t know that many people are capable or willing, you know, to, to acknowledge.

Speaker 1: (15:53)
Tell us more about that. I, I wanna know more about that.

Speaker 2: (15:57)
So there’s sales is a meritocracy is, is what people say, right? Mm-hmm I wholeheartedly disagree, right? It’s not an entire meritocracy. It can’t be because America’s not a meritocracy mm-hmm the world is not entirely a meritocracy. There are all kinds of factors, separate from how hard you work separate from, you know, even how bad you want it, how much integrity you have, what a good place you’re coming from. There are flat out factors that put many people at, at a disadvantage mm-hmm . And when I’m feeling that at work and experiencing things that are happening out in the world, you know, with that also feel like attacks on my identity or people, other people who look like me, um, it is incredibly difficult. So if, if the average sales person right starts here, this is the baseline I’m, I’m doing like a hand thing, right?

Speaker 2: (17:04)
Just a straight line, like one level, right. If they start here, this is their ground level, right. And then they don’t have these other pieces that they’re dealing with. It sets me up for a situation where just to get to the baseline, I’ve got a claw through, I’ve got a claw through things. People think of me because I was a teen mom. I’ve got a claw through the narrative that often precedes black women in particular, I’ve got a claw through the things that women in general are up against. And listen, these are not, I hate that. I have to say this, these are not excuses for underperforming, but I think we have to acknowledge the impact, those things, you know, the impact, the overall impact of culture on people’s success, on people’s outcomes. Right. And then you add to that, that I had a sales career is not always the most conducive to good mental health.

Speaker 2: (18:08)
Ugh. Yeah. Tell me about it. And you know, one of the things, I don’t know if I’ll call it a regret, but one of the things that’s just been hitting me lately, you know, now that I am mentally healthier, mentally, emotionally healthier than I was in the beginning of my career is that there are so many people who I worked with and worked for who don’t know me at all as a seller now, you know, they knew the, you know, again, like still finding my way, still very hampered by all the things that I talked about just now and again, all of the, the way that impacted my performance. And so there are a lot of things that I was like, I wish I had that, that opportunity to do that role again with that leader, you know, with, with not just what I know now, but with who I am now, and I guess that’s life, but it gets tricky in a sales life because it’s a career right.

Speaker 2: (19:00)
In your performance, in particular, in your experiences, they follow you. So it becomes this, this, you know, kind of tricky place where it’s like, you know, yes, I had a difficult time in that role and I know what impacted that. But at the end of the day, you know, there are some folks who, if they were to, you know, ask these questions or dig into why this role or that wasn’t successful, they might come away believing for whatever reason, you know, that I’m still that salesperson. I don’t think we talk about this kind of thing enough in a sales career, right. If you’ve had a sales career for even five years and you started that sales career, when you were like 21, we’re all more responsible by age 25 than we are 21. Yeah. And, and yet, because the narrative or whatever impression you made, especially if that leader is highly influential, people will believe what that person says.

Speaker 2: (20:01)
And again, it can follow you. So there are things that I really wish I could do over, but also glad you know, that I never did glad that I didn’t look back glad that I didn’t cry too long about, you know, times when I knew I could have done better. Were it not for, you know, these things? I couldn’t figure out about my, I, again, I’ve since been, you know, I suffer from bipolar disorder. Mm-hmm and you see, I just had a difficult time saying it out loud. I appreciate you saying that. Thank you. I appreciate sharing that. And what, what many people will know about bipolar disorder? Is it, if you don’t know that that’s what’s going on and it’s untreated you and the people around, you will just think, you know, this person is inconsistent. This person is, you know, up and down and you know, this and that.

Speaker 2: (20:58)
And I can’t sort of get a read like when she’s great. She’s great. But when she’s not, you know, and again, so in a sales career, because we measure things in such a clinical way, then it’s, you know, that inconsistency again, people don’t often recognize it as that. So this is really what I mean, when I say, I, I wish I could have done those things over if I were healthier. Um, but yeah, it’s once I got to a place where I was, I won’t call myself brave, but where I was ready to attend my mental health and where I was ready to confront some of the less savory parts of sales culture that I had participated in, you know, too many happy hours. Yeah. Things like that. Um, which

Speaker 1: (21:46)
We all did. Right,

Speaker 2: (21:47)
Right, right.

Speaker 1: (21:48)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (21:50)
And that, that’s when things started to start to turn around for me, it wasn’t of course overnight, but that’s when, at least I knew like, you know, it’s, I didn’t go attend my mental health cause I didn’t want to be labeled that. There’s something wrong with me. Sure. And then once I did the re the way that I was able to, you know, get back on track and get healthy was I was like, so what, Ugh. You know what I mean?

Speaker 1: (22:11)

Speaker 2: (22:12)
Yeah. You know, if some folks will receive this who are hearing this and, and many will be surprised to hear me say, uh, talk about my condition, but yes. So what, maybe there is something maybe having bipolar disorder means there’s something wrong with you, but here’s the thing, the perspective I had to put in, you know, put this in for myself was, yeah. Okay. Something’s wrong with you, but look what you’ve accomplished despite it,

Speaker 1: (22:36)

Speaker 2: (22:37)
So could there, is there really anything wrong with you then? Right. Mm-hmm might it just be a matter of, you know, getting treatment and getting, you know, finding out ways to cope that are healthy and that’s what it has been. It’s, it’s an everyday thing that I, I, and many people in my situation have to be really intentional about. Sure. Sure. But when I’m, when I am successful, it’s because I’m intentional about these things.

Speaker 1: (22:59)
Oh my gosh. There’s so much good in what you just shared. And I wanna say, thank you too, for sharing that, because people will look at, you know, they’ll look at the awards, they’ll look at all of that. And like, and they’ll to share some of the backstory it’s like, it wasn’t, from what I’m hearing you say, it’s like, there were times when you weren’t necessarily a top sales producer and there were times when you were struggling with mental health and it’s still something that, that you, that you deal with. And so it’s like knowing that and giving context it’s so I think it’s just so helpful for people to know the real deal. That’s why, like, for years and years, I didn’t share about the eating disorder I had when I was first in corporate sales and like all the panic attacks and the anxiety cuz I was shameful about them. But then when I started talking about it, it was like, we can actually relate. Yeah. Right. Like people can actually relate on a more human to human level. So I’d love, so thank you again for sharing that. I think it would be so great to hear about kind of, and in the time we have, we probably can’t go, you know, through all of it, but I’ll try to get

Speaker 2: (24:02)

Speaker 1: (24:02)
This is so good. No, this is so good. The journey of coming into your, and I would love to tie it, um, even like tie it back into what we were talking about in the pre-chat where I was like, I love your style. Like how you present yourself, how you show up. And you said like, it’s been a journey, right? Like you, weren’t always the, how you, how you show up today. So tell us about what was that journey like and how did you start to like really confidently express and show up like as your most authentic self?

Speaker 2: (24:31)
Yep. I was not always hustle Barbie.

Speaker 1: (24:34)
you’re listening. Ready. I hadn’t even ready. that’s awesome.

Speaker 2: (24:43)
You know what, a lot of what, you know, what you read at the top for my bio, right? That, that whole be feeling isolated. Uh, and then it got to a point where I just got sick of it. I had had this experience where, you know, my, my, an employer that I was working for said, we need, you know, more people of color. We need more women, you know, tell your friends to come right. To come and apply. And there were some folks that I’d worked with in car sales, who would be excellent at this job. I mean, this was just, was just an MDR role at this time. Mm-hmm and I don’t need say just, but I mean, it was certainly something within the skillset of someone whose job it has been for the past few years to get people, to come into a dealership and buy something for thousands of dollars. So I was like, yes, they can do and learn this job. So I’m invited two people. Um, one of them was a black male who was, you know, my had been my manager and had been the, he worked his way up from being the person who cleans the cars at this dealership. Wow. To being the GM

Speaker 2: (25:54)
And couldn’t get a job as an MDR. I just didn’t buy it. You didn’t make it past the phone screen. I just didn’t buy it. And then a woman that I, I worked with, she’s still my best friend. I’m flying to her birthday when she turns 30 later month and we’re dressing up like mean girls, just the outfit, not the attitudes,

Speaker 2: (26:14)
But anyway, so she comes in, she, she kills the interview. My peers, the other rest of the MDR team had interviewed her and they all recommended, yes, we want her, we want her, we want her, they don’t hire her. And the person they hire ends up being the same. Wow. As the people that they had. Then when I found, when I started to realize that I was hired, presumably seemingly as an exception, that was really painful actually. Yeah. I don’t, I don’t feel like I am the exception as an, you know, a black woman of excellence. I don’t at all. I am the rule. Yeah. The rule is that women are capable. The rule is that black people are capable. Right. And of these are things that folks would say, of course too. But the situation I just described to you, there was no, of course in that.

Speaker 2: (27:18)
So I got off is the quick way of saying that. Yeah. And you know, just sort of carried that with me. I wasn’t able to act on it at that time. I still had to, you know, sort of manage people’s expectations and my own of myself, but it came to a point in 2020, actually, this is how long it took me. Um, before this, what I’m gonna tell you, I’d only made one video on LinkedIn, um, with my natural hair. OK. Yeah. And because I just didn’t want, like, I had suffered so many like ridiculous, hurtful questions about my hair before in these environments that I just was protecting myself. But in 2020, when I’m trying to, I was with, I was, we were starting, uh, SDR offenders. I’m trying to invite new people into, you know, the sales profession who were as yet underrepresented.

Speaker 2: (28:09)
And you know, my name had just been Nikki Ivy on my LinkedIn profile since I started it. Yeah. And I remember I was at this job and they had, they passed out like paper, I forget what the mail was itself, but they had my name on it. Yeah. And one of my coworkers saw it and was like, who is qua? They didn’t even pronounce it. Right. Yeah. You know, and then it became this whole thing where they all talking about some character on TV, this name bonk, and oh, and then it just became, you feel me? Yeah. So these are the things that I had been protecting, but I felt at this point at this boiling point that the world was at in 2020. And with these people, these, all these new eyes and experiences coming into the profession, I was like, do I wanna teach them to shrink themselves?

Speaker 2: (28:56)
Oh, wow. Do I want to demonstrate for them that any, I don’t want them to associate any of my success with me trying to be something I’m not with me trying to, you know, fit in or behaving in any way that could be construed as not being proud of my name. Right. What, what happened in the I’m sorry. Probably almost outta time, but I have to say that. No, you’re good. Keep going. This is great. Yeah. So I, that is when I decided to put qua Nikki and parentheses Ivy. I had to keep the Nicki because people know me as Nikki Ivy. Um, but that’s when right in the, in the 1980s in America, it was a time when black people, as a culture were reaching for our roots. Mm. We didn’t have access to our African cultures. We didn’t have access to our African names.

Speaker 2: (29:53)
And so some of us made them up. Mm. My parents. Um, and it, it maybe is connected to some actual name and some actual African culture, but it was just, it’s, it’s the name qua is distinctly black American. It’s distinctly. You hear it. And you know, and I was afraid of that because I was so hyper aware of what people think of chin was because I’ve been in so many environments where people had articulated those things. Yeah. But, and like, first of all, like the chin was that do fit the archetype that these people are being shady towards have every right to express themselves and be the Chine was that they are, as I do, we don’t all have to sneak with the same, but, but that’s really like, that is what, how I came into my own. And then I was like, it doesn’t even have to mean I’m wearing my natural hair every single day to make a point on LinkedIn.

Speaker 2: (30:52)
It can mean that I do whatever I want, but I just do whatever I want. There is, um, this book and there is this, oh my gosh, that book is so powerful. It’s, it’s UNAM for those of you just listening. Yeah. Um, and there’s the line in it? Yes. That makes me cry. Yeah. The one she says, uh, all the things that make a woman human are a good, girl’s dirty secret. I don’t want no dirty secrets. I’m cool. I wanna be a human, you know what I mean? If I have to choose you. And I know that being a woman and being good, being human as a woman and being good are not mutually exclusive. Right. Mm. And that the definition of good, right. It could also use some, some deeper examination. Right. But that’s what it was. I was like, I don’t want no dirty secrets.

Speaker 2: (31:47)
I don’t wanna be treating these things that are so natural to who I am so important and critical to who I am. Like, there’s something I should be embarrassed about. I am Shane with Chantelle. I was born in the Hilltop housing projects of Dayton, Ohio in 1981. And my daddy named me, he named me after what he said was, uh, squa was the prettiest girl on the projects besides your mom . And, and he was like, and she wouldn’t let me name you after her. My mom’s name is Octavia, but, um, so, so again, and he was, he, it means African princess who knows. Right. Yeah. But anyway, yeah. So, so I, when I started letting myself be qua, whether people were calling me Nikki or not, yeah. Stuff started to turn around and that’s when I was able to be more, yes. More effective in my career, but more like a more effective and authentic mentor to the people that are coming into this profession. Right. I don’t want people looking up to me if what they’re looking up to. Isn’t actually neat.

Speaker 1: (32:54)
Gosh. So good. It’s so good. Thank you for that. Oh man. For someone I wanna ask, um, I feel like we could have this conversation for hours. It’s just I’m so I’m so inspired. I wanna ask one final question. We didn’t really get into sales tips today, which I am like, this is what I care about. This is, but what I was gonna say with that is I want you to tell everyone where they can follow you, cuz you give phenomenal sales tips and strategy on, on LinkedIn and, and on your other social too. So I, I wanna give you a moment to like tell everyone where they can connect with you, but this is the type of things. This is what I like to talk about. This is way more important. Um, and this is so powerful. So if someone is listening and they feel like they can’t be their, their authentic selves in sales and be successful, um, clearly following you and, and just seeing the example you’re setting, I think is really empowering. But is there anything else you would say to them or anything else, any piece of like final piece of advice you would give to them if they are maybe earlier in that journey than you?

Speaker 2: (34:01)
Yeah. Um, do not be afraid to speak up. You’re not crazy. You’re not imagining it. Right. The dis that you feel, the exclusion that you feel is likely actually happening. And when that happens, talk to your leader about it, approach it with curiosity. Right. Hey, I keep getting people say things to me like, like this, um, you know, why do you think that’s happening? What do you think we could address about the culture here that might make it easier for me to exist here and feel like I belong? Yes. I’m able to say that because I’ve had to practice it over and over again. Yeah. But don’t be afraid to say that. Secondly, like if you, if specifically, right, if there is you belong to a historically excluded group, right. I mean women, I mean all the things, right? Yeah. Then join a community that is concerned with lifting up that group. There are so many of them now more than ever more than when I started in the profession. Right. I mean, you have what you’re doing. You have what, what Cynthia barns, another one of our, uh, you know, sales influences and we have what, her outfit, you have sisters and sales, you’ve got Gabrielle and, uh, Alex seen with women in sales club and then, you know, all these others, like I said, um, or maybe I didn’t mention it sales for the culture.

Speaker 1: (35:36)
Mm, no,

Speaker 2: (35:37)
We are a, I’m one of the founding members, uh, originally founding it was myself Morgan, J Ingram, uh, Kevin Dorsey and Ernest ISU of sixth senses. Um, these are all, some of my favorite test people. And, uh, they decided, again, we were all pretty much kind of the only, or ones of a few at our respective organizations. And so this community sales for the culture, um, over a thousand, you know, black and brown sellers at various points in our careers functions as an external ERG in a lot of ways, when things happen out in the world that impact us as black people that maybe in our organizations there, isn’t the opportunity to discuss in a way that is authentic and free. We have that in this organization. So join us if, uh, if that, if that’s you, uh, and, or just, you know, what, straight up reach out to me, I cannot promise that I will respond immediately. But when I get these types of stories, when I get these types of requests and I get them a lot, I make a point to answer those as soon as I can. Yeah. So do that on, on LinkedIn, probably gonna be the longest, wait, um, you could comment on something, uh, and I’ll probably see that sooner than I see, um, an inbox message, but Twitter and Instagram of those inboxes are dry.

Speaker 1: (37:07)
Not for

Speaker 2: (37:10)
See. So I will definitely see it if you message me there. Uh, and, and at know, Nicky Ivy on both of those, uh, platforms. So not know as in rejection, uh, but know, as in get to know Nicky Ivy, so K N O w N I K K I I V E Y um, on Twitter and Instagram.

Speaker 1: (37:27)
Amazing. Amazing. And then they can find you on LinkedIn obviously as well. Shaneika Nikki Ivy, right? Mm-hmm oh my gosh. This has been so inspiring. You’ve given all of us just so much to think about. And I just, I wanna say thank you so much for sharing your journey, your story, and for the example that you’re setting for anyone who is, you know, including myself, who is looking to continually lean into all of who we are and own that, um, more powerfully, it’s just, it’s such a beautiful example. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Speaker 2: (38:01)
Thank you. This has been, you know, a healing for me. We’re not in the office anymore. I don’t have access to other, you know, dynamic women very often. It’s just me and my house and my husband and my kids. And they’re great. Yeah. But meeting you is, you know, and getting to speak with you today has really been, you know, refreshing, like I said, kind of healing. I can, I’m feeling an energy. I think we’re gonna be friends. Yes,

Speaker 1: (38:26)
It is. I, I hope so. I would love that so much. I would love that so much. Uh, thank you again so much, Nikki, for your time. And for everyone listening, please connect, um, connect on social, follow, follow her content. It’s phenomenal. Um, and just so, so grateful to have you, so to you, my listener, thank you for tuning in. I know that you found this episode super powerful, please. I’m always so grateful when you share, um, tag both Nikki and myself, when you share, and we will, uh, we’d love to connect with you as well, have a fantastic week, and I’ll see you next week. On our next episode of she sells radio bye for now.

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