Adrian Miller is an amazingly dynamic, funny, wise woman over 50 who loves what she does and is in no hurry to slow down! President and Founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training www.adrianmiller.com, a sales consulting organization she launched over 30 years ago, she is also a professional speaker and author. Adrian’s Network www.adriansnetwork.com, the highly successful business networking community that Adrian created, has over 400 members. Entrepreneur extraordinaire—and new grandma—Adrian is incredibly generous with her wisdom and expertise, and she shared much of it with me when we met this past July. We had great fun! I hope you get as much out of this interview as I did!
Diane: I’m very excited to interview you today!
Adrian: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Diane: Good. Let’s jump right in! Can you tell us about your business? How long you’ve been in, how it started, what’s it all about.
“We’re the Proverbial Three-Legged Stool”
Adrian: Okay. The primary business is a sales consulting and training company. I work with companies in pretty much any industry category or professional services group from startups to very large organizations.
I do business development strategy. If you start a business, the first thing you need is clients—not just the one client that you start with. You need ongoing lead generation and business development. Otherwise, you won’t have a sustainable business. You’ll have a business that only lasts as long as that first client’s around.
You may have a larger company, with 5, 10, 50, 500 sales reps, and you want to see them become more competent and proficient. So I do lots of ongoing sales and business development and training, lots of sales strategy, lead generation development, business develop, tactics, and everything to do with integrating sales and marketing.
Diane: What’s your business called?
Adrian: Adrian Miller Sales Training.
I also started a content management company with two other partners http://www.wordsworkcopywriting.com. We write blogs, newsletters, social media and websites, et cetera. Just recently, I launched another business, with two different partners, that integrates more of the branding, marketing, and graphic design with branding strategy and business development and sales.
We’re the proverbial three-legged stool and businesses need all three legs. We’re really targeting mid-size businesses that don’t have the money to bring on a very high-price marketing or sales resource. They’re looking at the cost-efficiencies to have an outsourced resource such as our business.
“I Couldn’t Say I Had that Sales Training Experience, But I Was Intrinsically Good at It.”
Diane: Very interesting. How do you know what businesses need?
Adrian: The gravitas comes from 32 years of doing it. I worked in advertising and marketing, and 32 years ago I started my own business. In those positions, in those companies, I was given increasing responsibility and learned what I needed to learn. When I started my business, I really couldn’t say how I had that sales training experience, but I was intrinsically very good at it. And now I’ve written a book on it. I’ve actually written two books. I know what I do works because I have clients that I’ve worked with for a long period of time. Sales is so quantifiable. You literally can see the results.
Diane: You have data. That’s wonderful.
Adrian: That’s how it all came about. It was very organic. I don’t know if people do things the same way now, but back then, it seemed like the right thing to do.
Diane: It worked for you.
Adrian: It seems to have.
“What Changed after 50 is a Relinquishing of Some of the Responsibilities of Child and Teenage-Rearing”
Diane: This blog—although we love every reader—targets women 50 and over.
Diane: Tell me how your life changed at 50.
Adrian: I still have the same business that I had before I was 50. I’m not one of those folks that transitioned from either being a homemaker or somebody who was more involved in volunteer capacities and then went out into the fee-based professional world. And I’m not one of those people who had a career and then either got displaced because of age, a change in the business, or decided that they were going to pursue a passion.
This is the business I’ve always had and was meant to do. It’s the thing I love and have always been really good at. What changed after 50 is a relinquishing of some of the responsibilities of child and teenage-rearing, but let me step back a little bit. I went to back to work immediately after my kids were born. Immediately. One week later.
“There’s Something Incredibly Liberating When You Don’t Have to Continually Walk the Minefield of Unwanted Attention”
Adrian: I always had a professional bent to my existence. I am also the most hands-on, involved parent and always have been. I’m incredibly close with my family. So changing after 50, I just feel like I had more bandwidth to do as much work as I do, but I still did a lot before.
I know that I couldn’t work the number of hours I work now if I was tasked with some of those things that you are tasked with, even if you have a collaborative relationship with your partner in terms of the child-tending. I’m also not concerned about as many things as I was back then. I was always a comfortable public speaker. Put me in front of a huge room and I’m happy. But I don’t care so much now about what I look like or how you’re judging me in that regard.
Diane: Isn’t that freeing?
Adrian: Yeah, it’s awesome.
I still feel like I’m, to a certain degree, vain, but gone are the days where I’m so sensitive to it. There’s something incredibly liberating when you don’t have to continually walk the minefield of unwanted attention. I think some would look at it and say it’s sad: “Gee, I want to be that girl.” But I don’t so much. I’m happy being judged on what I can bring to the table professionally.
Diane: That’s wonderful.
Adrian: So those things certainly are liberating. I’m lucky to be healthy. I’m lucky to be energetic. Certain things happen with age and some people aren’t as lucky. Right now, I am.
“When Your 30-Year-Old Kid is Having Career Issues, Doesn’t That Seem More Important Than Your First-Grader Breaking Their Balloon?”
Diane: I can really see you being hands-on with your kids, but when they grew up, saying, “Wow, now I’m going to just go gang-busters with the business.” Or more so.
Adrian: Definitely more so, but I was pretty gang-busters with the business when they were young.
I think anybody who has adult children knows the line, “Your kids are always your kids, no matter how old they are.” Absolutely. And that cliché of, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” Oh my God. Don’t we all know that.
When your 30-year-old kid is having career issues, doesn’t that seem more important than your first-grader breaking their balloon? I mean, really. I know in first grade, that occupied a lot of your brain. But kids still occupy your brain. They just don’t need you physically. You don’t have to pour the juice. You don’t have to smear the jelly. They’re not in your house. God bless, they’re not in your house.
Diane: I’m with you on that.
Adrian: God bless. And hopefully, they’re independent at a certain point. They’ve got their life at a certain point. That is really freeing. Really freeing.
Diane: When you work with people, do you work with a lot of women who are starting a new second or-
“They Have a Great Product or Service. But That Doesn’t Mean Anything Unless They Have Clients”
Adrian: I do. More and more now. I haven’t always worked much with individuals. I worked with corporate, who brought me in for very big assignments and that was great. My business changed, frankly, not because I said, “Oh, I’m going to cast them aside and work with solo entrepreneurs,” but because a lot of those companies said, “Adrian, we want to give you a job. We don’t want to have an outsourced consultant anymore.” I didn’t want a job then, and I don’t want a job now. So, I lost some of those clients because they replaced me with an in-house person.
As the business grew and morphed, and its networking took more of my time and attention, I met with more of those women. And so yeah, working with women who didn’t even realize that this thing they’ve been doing, “Wow, you can put a price tag on it.”
Some of the people who work harder than anyone else don’t have that financial imperative to work. They have another imperative and that’s awesome.
Diane: Is it exciting when you help someone with a brand-new business? What are the challenges and the joys?
Adrian: The challenges are almost always that the person has never marketed or sold anything. They have a great, fabulous product or service. But that doesn’t mean anything unless they have clients. Someone to buy their product or service. It’s exciting to communicate that to them and it’s awfully exciting to help them get clients.
“I Get Hysterical If My Computer’s Glitching. I Think Young People Have That, Too”
Diane: Adrian, how do you feel about technology?
Adrian: Love and hate. I love it, of course, and I hate it when I don’t know what I’m doing or when it doesn’t work. I get hysterical if my computer’s glitching. I think young people have that, too. I may feel more vulnerable. I also feel vulnerable because I don’t have a tech support department behind me.
Adrian: When it’s not working, I could be losing business. I’m lucky enough to have a fabulous tech support person who I can call or email almost at all times, but without him I’d probably be feeling like I’m living on the edge. It’s hard. I think if you’re not technically astute, you have to get to be. You have to. There are so many different individuals and companies that teach classes online. I don’t think you can get away with not being computer-literate. And I don’t mean just working on a computer. That’s like 50 years ago.
Adrian: I’m talking about the tablet and the phone and social media and all that.
“If I Need a Resource in Anything, I Can Go to the Networking Community I’ve Built and Get the Work Done”
Diane: So, I met you because of your networking business. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Adrian: I’ve always been a good networker and been involved with networking. It’s how I started growing my business. It seemed like just people talking to people. How bad could that be? I was involved in a lot of groups and was running around all the time. And then, it got to be less fun and more of a job. When the economic recession hit in ’08, ’09, I was networking more, enjoying it less. I felt that there were too many rules and regulations, so I decided to start my own networking community and see how that would go. And it went really well. I have a very big community.
It still plays a big part of my business development for certain parts of my business. I’ve met fabulous resources. That’s the one thing that I can’t ever replace. If I need a resource in anything, I can go to the networking community I’ve built and get the work done. Any category. I’m excited and happy about that.
Diane: You have a group in Manhattan and Long Island?
Adrian: Manhattan, Long Island. You can be virtual though, because we have a member in Paris, a member in Houston.
“I Developed Something That Is All-Inclusive and It Seems to be Working”
Adrian: I hold virtual networking calls. There’s a lot of functionality to the group. You don’t have to be physically present. You can use the group in a variety of different ways that still gives you exposure but doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be somewhere.
When I designed it, I wanted to appeal to young parents who couldn’t find themselves at meetings at 8:00 in the morning because they had to get kids off to school. And I wanted to appeal to the solo entrepreneur who didn’t feel comfortable leaving their business in the middle of the day. I just wanted it to be very inclusive. So many groups aren’t and it’s either their one way or the highway. And I didn’t want that to be because I thought there were so many opportunities for people if we could just make it fit for them. So I developed something that was all-inclusive and it seems to be working and it keeps growing. I’m excited.
“I Have a Particular Propensity for Thriving in a Very Frenetic Type of Existence”
Diane: You’re in so many different places. How do you keep it all straight?
Adrian: Oh, God. I have a particular propensity for thriving in a very frenetic type of existence. I always have. I give all the credit to my mom, who was widowed when she was very young. She wasn’t a business owner. She had a job. But she managed to keep many balls in the air and seemingly was tireless.
I’m a big believer in chipping away at things, making small goals, celebrating small accomplishments. It’s like losing weight, “You don’t have to lose your 50 pounds. Celebrate the hell out of losing two and keep going.” I can keep a lot of balls in the air and not drop them, but very few are done at 100%. I am a bit of a perfectionist, but in a lot of things, I know something is better than nothing and will honor that. I work really, really, really hard. I get up early.
Diane: What time?
Adrian: 5:00, 5:30. My days are packed, but I also go to the gym. I’m in a book club. I’m married and see my husband. I have two adult children that I see a lot.
Diane: You babysit.
Adrian: I babysit my granddaughter. I go to the theater. I do all those things. I think many people don’t because they spend too much time thinking they don’t have the time. My kids were very busy kids. I told them that in the time they spent complaining they didn’t have time to do their homework, they could’ve started it! That’s how I feel. In the amount of time I’m sitting there, rendered incapable of action because I feel overwhelmed, I could be doing it. And so I do it.
“I Sort of Miss Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow, But … When They Have Something Good to Report, I’ll Watch Again”
Diane: Do you close the computer at a certain hour?
Adrian: Yeah. I almost always in bed between 10:00 and 11:00. If I’m in bed at 10:00, I’ll be reading. I used to always watch CNN before I went to bed. It’s become a really horrible thing for me to watch. So I don’t any more. Every once in a while, I get twitchy and I do, but then it’s horrible.
Diane: The nightmares.
Adrian: Nightmares. So I don’t do MSNBC. I sort of miss Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow, but what can I say? When they have something good to report, I’ll watch again. When they make me happy. But I’ll read and then I’ll go to sleep and I don’t suffer from sleep disorders. I’m usually real tired when I go to bed and I’m happily tired, but I always wake up happy. I’m in a gratitude group. The first thing I do in the morning is post five things for which I’m grateful. Every day.
Diane: Wow. Is this a Facebook group?
Adrian: It’s a Facebook group that is called 90 Days of Gratitude. When I started, I thought I was going to do it for 90 days. I’m up to 1,545 days.
Diane: And you’re grateful for it!
Adrian: And grateful for it. There are a bunch of us that are very close. We’re a closed group. We share things in that group that I don’t think we share in other places. Vulnerabilities. Things like that. We get a lot of encouragement and support.
“You Can Burn the Midnight Oil for a Little While. You Can Eat Garbage for a Little While. But It’s Going to Catch Up to You”
Diane: What do you do for self-care?
Adrian: I’m not a gym rat, but I go to the gym. I like listening to music on the treadmill and knowing I ran or walked fast three or four miles. I do yoga. I’ll take a longer shower than probably is environmentally correct. And I’m attentive to what’s going on in my life. I eat really well. I don’t eat garbage food. I’m pretty much, probably 80% to 85% vegan.
Adrian: It helps me a lot. If you work hard, if you want to have energy, you need good food. I mean, our moms said, “You have to eat well and sleep.” That’s the stuff that gives you the energy.
I don’t have to be a nutritionist or a sleep consultant to know that both of those things are really important … You can burn the midnight oil for a little while. You can eat garbage for a little while. But it’s going to catch up to you.
Diane: It does catch up.
Adrian: And as you get older, it catches up faster. It has nothing to do with how you look or what weight you’re at or anything. It’s about health.
“My Mom Was a Very Strong Woman, But I Don’t Think She Even Knew It”
Diane: It is. So you mentioned your mom. You are a strong woman. I imagine she was as well.
Adrian: It’s interesting. My mom was a very strong woman, but I don’t think she even knew it. She was first and foremost a homemaker and then, when I entered elementary school, she went back and took a part-time job. She didn’t go to college. She was a bookkeeper.
I was 15 when my father died. I wasn’t so young, but she was quite young. She was in her 30s. And he didn’t leave us money, because he was very young. There wasn’t this big nest egg and insurance policy. She had to work. She did fine. She provided for us nicely. I didn’t know I didn’t have certain things. My friends were in the same boat.
She was strong in that she, all of a sudden, was single and really kept our life moving forward. She was an absolutely stunning, gorgeous, phenomenally stylish person. We fought about that because I was not. We had lots of disagreements about that.
Diane: She never remarried?
Adrian: She never remarried. Back in the day, you met people through people.
Diane: That’s right.
Adrian: We didn’t have online anything. She and her friends developed their core group of girl friends and they-
“There are Things That You Know You Can Talk About with Your Girl Friends for an Hour That Your Husband or Male Partner Would Cut Off in about Two Seconds”
Diane: So you had that as a model, too. Women supporting women.
Adrian: Yeah. Yeah. They traveled. They went out to dinner and did things on the weekend. They always saw that as really important. I don’t think I have as big of a female support group as I would like to have and as I’m trying and building now. I started a Facebook group in my community: Port Washington Women Over 55.
It’s awesome. We really have a great time.
Diane: That’s wonderful.
Adrian: I’m trying to build that. I don’t think I have that because I got married very young and a lot of my life and free time was with my husband. Because he’s still my best friend.
Diane: That’s wonderful.
Adrian: Yeah. He’s my best friend. If I have spare time, he’s the person I choose to spend it with. But I really think having women friends is important. Every once in a while, I have a conversation with my husband, and he either answers very succinctly or he’s kind of not interested in talking about it anymore. I’ll say, “And that’s difference between men and women, because we would be chewing over this for a while and I want to chew over it.” And then he goes, “All right, let’s keep chewing over it.” And of course you don’t want to chew over it anymore because he’s not interested in chewing over it.
Diane: It does work that way, doesn’t it?
Adrian: So, yeah, there are things that you know you can talk about with your girl friends for an hour, that your husband or male partner would cut off in about two seconds. And I’m not talking about superficial stuff. I’m talking pretty meaty stuff. We’re just different.
“If I Had to List All the Qualities That I Would Have Wanted in a Daughter-in-Law, I Got Them”
Diane: So, you’ve had some exciting things in your family. You have a new grandbaby.
Adrian: Yeah, it’s awesome.
Diane: Yeah. And your son’s getting married.
Adrian: Son’s getting married. Love the two women in their lives. My daughter-in-law is spectacular and special. If I had to list all the qualities that I would have wanted in a daughter-in-law, I got them. Every one. 100%. She, I think, has made my son more family-oriented. It’s spectacular. And their daughter is just yummy. It’s fun watching my son be a dad. Oh, it’s so much fun.
And my younger son is marrying a woman who I also is fabulous. Fantastic. She’s good friends with my daughter-in-law.
Diane: Oh, that’s great.
Adrian: My sons are very good friends, really good friends.
I feel like I won the lottery.
“If My Phone Rings, and I See It’s One of Those Four Numbers, I Will Pick It Up”
Adrian: Totally. They’ll always be my first choice. I work hard, but if my phone rings, and I see it’s one of those four numbers, I will pick it up. I don’t care who I’m with, what I’m doing. I have to tell you a funny story.
Four years ago, my phone rang, and I had just started a meeting with a new person. I picked it up and said, to my son, “Hi, honey. Please make this fast. I’m in a meeting. Is there anything wrong?” He said, “Yes. We’re going to Paris and my passport’s expired.” Now, this is an adult son.
Adrian: Yeah. It was, “Mom, what do I do?” And I said, “I’ll handle that.” I looked at the guy and I said, “I’m so sorry. I have an emergency. I have to leave.” And I left. And we worked it out, and he did get to Paris. He used a solution that I don’t think he would’ve known without me, but before that, he just went into panic mode. Like a kid on the playground in panic mode, hyperventilating. At that point, he was 27! Everything was on the line. His tickets, no refunds, his girlfriend whom he was traveling with. Everything.
“You Never Let Your Kids Suffer, However Old They Are”
Someone said, “You should’ve just let him suffer on his own.” That was someone who wasn’t a mom. You never let your kids suffer, however old they are. If you can’t help, that’s one thing. But if you can, you try to help. I mean, the truth is, I would’ve tried to help anyone, but I wouldn’t have taken your call at that moment.
If I’d called you back and said, “Oh my God, Adrian, do you know what to do?” I would’ve said, “Yeah. Let’s work this through.”
Diane: So you don’t go into panic mode very often?
Adrian: Very rarely. My panic mode is when my computer shuts down. No. I don’t go into panic mode. I’ve felt myself go into surreal mode, when my mom passed away and they called me from the hospital. You have that surreal moment that. It’s the only word I can use. I’m pretty articulate, but not then.
Then I found myself mobilizing very, very quickly. I’m sure there’d be situations. Maybe I’m just lucky enough that I haven’t been in one.
Diane: Okay. So, I know you’re busy. I have one more question.
“Find a Coach You Really Respect and Trust, One Who is Willing to Go into the Weeds with You”
Diane: What advice would you give a woman who’s struggling with what to do next?
Adrian: Okay. Yeah. And you could be struggling with what to do next at any age, no matter where you are, no matter business, no business, money, no money. I think there are a couple things to do. One, find a coach you really respect and trust and who is willing to go into the weeds with you. You may have to go through a few coaches. You have to bond on a lot of levels. I know people who have found a coach who was “the one,” but they dated a lot of frogs first.
It doesn’t have to even be this paid, contractual relationship. But you have to have a support person or support group that is willing to work with you, to hear you out, has some insights derived from their own experiences, but is willing to understand their own experiences may not be analogous to yours, or has had some academic training to help you get from point A to point B to point C.
“At Any Age, But Clearly as You Hit 50 and Beyond, the Words, “What Makes You Joyful?” Are So Important.”
Somebody who can help you with short, mid, and long-term goals. Goal-setting is real important. What are your goals? What makes you excited? What gets you up in the morning and makes you bound out of bed and be joyful? At any age, but clearly as you hit 50 and beyond, the words, “What makes you joyful?” are so important.
I think your life has to bring you joy. If you can’t think of one thing that brings you joy or one thing that you could be doing to bring you joy, you need somebody to help you. I don’t think reading a book is going to do it, and I don’t think watching a couple YouTubes is going to do it.
I feel lucky because I have a lot things that bring me joy. I don’t usually use the word lucky, because I think, to a certain degree, you make your own luck. Nothing has come that easy. I work really hard. I’ve had my share of work failures. I work at my relationship. My husband and I have our ups and downs, mostly ups, but we work at it. My kids are great kids but sure, I’ve had times where I’ve wanted to rip my throat out, and I work at our relationships. I know what I can say and what I can’t say. I know where I have to filter my comments. I know when I’m too much or too little.
You work at it. “Lucky” is sitting back and like something dropped on your head from the heavens. I don’t think that happens so much, and it certainly has never happened to me. Ever.
“I Think Luck is a Word that Shows You Didn’t Make Decisions. We’re Adults. We’re Decision-Makers”
Diane: In the blog, we’ve talked about how, when you say you feel really lucky, you’re not giving yourself enough credit.
Adrian: You’re not honoring the work you’ve done. You’re not giving yourself the recognition and appreciation for everything you’ve done to get to that place. I get really annoyed if I have a big win for work and someone tells me I’m lucky. Oh my gosh. At this stage, I get a little bit acerbic. I answer with a little bit of snarkiness. Because I don’t think I’ve gotten any piece of business because I was lucky. Any. Zero. 32 years.
I just think luck is a word that shows you didn’t make certain decisions and we’re adults, so we’re decision-makers. You can make bad decisions. I’ve made bad decisions.
Diane: But you learn from them.
Diane: That’s the important thing.
“And Guess What? It’s Different from When I Had My Kids”
Adrian: Oh my gosh, yeah. I’ll give you an example. My daughter-in-law was talking to me about something, and I was very opinionated. Really opinionated about it. And then, only after I got home I said, “That was really uncalled for and if I did too much of that, she would never want to talk to me again.”
I can state my opinion, but I can’t go on and on about it, because she has her opinion, and it’s her baby. And guess what? It’s different from when I had my kids.
You don’t put babies on their tummy any more, but I came in and said, “You should have that baby on the tummy,” She looked at me like was insane, because doctors tell you, “Don’t ever put the babies on the tummy.”
My kids should be dead. I should be dead. We were all put on the tummy. But she had another set of facts. I went home and texted and emailed and called her with an apology because I wanted one of them to get through.
She said, “Oh, no, no. It’s no problem.” I said, “But I feel better knowing that you know how off the mark I was in the way I was talking to you. I learned from that. I will never do it again.”
“You Should Read the Recipe”
When you fall on your face, when you go to do a presentation that you didn’t prepare enough for, when you’re called upon to do something and you didn’t do your homework. All those little things. When you don’t read the recipe, and I shouldn’t say this because I don’t cook at all, but if you don’t read the recipe and make a horrible dinner for guests, you learn. You should read the recipe.
Diane: Not everyone learns, though. But it seems like you do.
Adrian: Yeah. I don’t want to make mistakes too many times. It’s important that I have a really good relationship with my daughter-in-law. It’s important, if I invite you over to dinner, that I don’t give you something that you can’t eat. It’s important if I’m going to stand in front of 100 people that I don’t look like an idiot. That’s one of the things you learn when you get older.
I Don’t Get Up in the Morning Grumpy about What I’m Doing, and I Don’t Go to Sleep at Night Wishing I Had Done Something Else”
Diane: Absolutely. What do you see for yourself for the future?
Adrian: My future. I have no intentions of slowing down with work. I love everything I do. Everything I do feeds my soul. Everything I do makes me smile. So right now, I’m going to continue with what I’m doing. One of the things I love to do I travel. I do travel a lot.
It all makes me happy. I don’t get up in the morning grumpy about what I’m doing and I don’t go to sleep at night wishing I had done something else. Everything in between those hours is okay. No, it’s better than okay. It’s really good or great.
Diane: What a note to end on! This has been an absolute pleasure.
Adrian: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Diane: Thank you, Adrian.
If you would like to contact Adrian for sales consulting or business networking—or you’d just like to learn more about her, please check out these links:
You can also reach her by phone: 516-767-9288 (office)
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please post a comment or send me an email! And, feel free to share any posts on social media!
Have a wonderful week—see you next Friday!