19: The Power of Mentoring Millennials

The war for top talent is always going to be fierce. But while some large Fortune 500s are spending millions on recruiting millennials in all the usual places, other companies are finding top talent in unconventional places.

Danae Villarreal is an Enterprise Account Marketing at GitLab Inc. From project planning and source code management to CI/CD and monitoring, GitLab is a complete DevOps platform, delivered as a single application.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - The Power of Mentoring Millennials

00:05 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstar podcast. So in today's episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast, we're gonna hear from Danae Villarreal who's with 511 Enterprises, and Danae shares with us all about the power of mentoring and how one mentor actually found her when she was at her worst early on in her career and how he really has poured into her, and has changed not only the trajectory of her career path, but also the trajectory of her life. So listen in and see what Danae has to share.

00:39 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Welcome to the show today. I have a really fascinating rockstar with me today. Today's rockstar is Danae Villarreal. Danae, welcome to the show.


00:55 Danae Villarreal: Thank you, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure.

01:00 Amanda Hammett: I'm super excited to talk to you. So Danae, tell us a little bit about you.

01:04 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, grew up in Washington, moved to Northern California when I was like 23, did the whole higher education thing. I've been working in sales development for the last year and a half, and I recently started a data analytics program in the San Francisco Bay Area.

01:25 Amanda Hammett: Very cool, very cool. Alright. So I happen to meet your direct boss, I don't know, months ago, at a conference, and he was telling me about the philosophy at your company and all that good stuff, and about his personal hiring philosophy, and so I knew that he was like good people. So I was like, "Oh, do you have any rockstars? And he immediately told me a little bit about you. He didn't tell me your name, that would come later. So, tell us why does your boss, Joe Odell, why does he consider you to be a rockstar?

02:01 Danae Villarreal: That's a great question. [laughter] This is a long story, I hope you're ready.

02:07 Amanda Hammett: I'm ready.

02:10 Danae Villarreal: It was a year and a half ago, a little over a year and a half ago, I was working a pizza job, [chuckle] and kinda went through like a quarter life crisis so I was like not sure what I wanted to do, and that crisis ended up in me getting fired at the pizza job. I spent three months on the couch, trying to figure out what I was gonna do, putting in countless applications, and did everything I could to prepare myself for interviews and everything.

02:41 Danae Villarreal: And just like randomly happened upon a job opening for 511 Enterprises, and I was really not sure of it at first. But I go in for a job shadow, and I meet Joe Odell, and his first reaction to me was, "I looked at your LinkedIn, and I noticed that you have roller derby on there. Is that something you do?" And then I was like, "Yeah," [chuckle] but interview turned into me, inviting him out to my game the following weekend. [chuckle] The thing about roller derby is you can invite people all the time, but most of the time people don't show, and Joe shows up with his whole family that weekend.

03:25 Amanda Hammett: I've met him.

03:25 Danae Villarreal: And I was so impressed. [chuckle] I knew that even if I didn't know exactly if I had what it took to do the whole sales thing, I knew that Joe was someone that I wanted to learn from, and I have been ever since. It's been a year and a half of his mentorship, and it's just completely changed the trajectory of my life. He has championed me like no one else has before. And so, what went for me was a pizza delivery gig. I'm pursuing my dreams because he saw me, and he saw something in me, and believed in me, and has not stopped fighting for me since that day.

04:14 Amanda Hammett: That's an awesome story, and I can totally see him doing all of those things. [laughter] He's just that kind of person.

04:24 Danae Villarreal: Totally.

04:26 Amanda Hammett: So tell us a little bit, I mean, I know that you mentioned you got fired from your pizza job, but tell us a little bit about, in your current role, 'cause you're in a sales development role at 511, tell us a little bit about what has worked for you in your career path and growing, as you have.

04:47 Danae Villarreal: Yeah. So I think that, I personally, I'm in the belief that sales development is probably one of the hardest jobs that is out there.

04:58 Amanda Hammett: I'm out there with you.


05:00 Danae Villarreal: Like we're dealing with rejection every single day, multiple times a day. People hanging up on us, whatever. And I think that for me, the biggest part of my success in the last year and a half has been intentionally pursuing emotional health, choosing to not place my identity completely in the role, like whether or not someone says no to me, and just brushing it off and moving on to the next person and consistently practicing resilience because it's such a practice. Like it's not something that we just have innately within us. Maybe a little bit, but in sales, like you gotta be in that mindset. And so, yeah, I think that that for me has been like the biggest thing, making sure that I'm taking care of myself and just like my, yeah, like my mental attitude in keeping that on board, you know.

06:02 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely, I mean, well there's... And with that resilience there's also a certain level of mental toughness that you've had to develop. And I know that you mentioned taking care of yourself from an emotional level, and that is something that actually Joe and I discussed, is just those roles that you're in, and it's just hard on anybody. And so to make it, and to be successful, you've gotta have those things. So, good for you. Very good for you!

06:30 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, thank you! Yeah...

06:31 Amanda Hammett: No...

06:31 Danae Villarreal: Joe... Also... Sorry...

06:33 Amanda Hammett: Oh, no, please.

06:34 Danae Villarreal: Also has been super helpful for me in that because when I started, I didn't know what I was doing. He has so very graciously led me along the path of asking good questions. And making me actually ask myself like, "What? Like why do I feel so tied to this right now? Am I still gonna be okay if this deal falls through? Am I still gonna be okay and not letting the roller coaster of the sales cycle dictate the way that I feel about who I am or where I'm going? So...

07:09 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Very cool, very cool. So is there anything in this particular job or maybe in a past job that has not worked for you?

07:23 Danae Villarreal: Anything that has not worked for me?

07:25 Amanda Hammett: Mm-hmm.

07:27 Danae Villarreal: Oh, that's a great question. I think that... Like no matter the product or whatever, I've had like... The nature of my business is I've had multiple clients over the last year and half. And so, it's rapidly changing and stuff. But I think that as long as I stay tied to the why. The why of like making people's lives better. No matter what the product is. If I am bringing the value and saying, "Hey, I can make this easier for you. I can take away your headaches, whatever." I think that that has been something that I've needed. And to go back to the question that what hasn't worked for me, has been like getting caught up in the small hiccups that happen within the sales process.


08:27 Danae Villarreal: And like, you know like, it's administrative nightmare sometimes. And so, just really keeping my cool and just remembering why, has been something that, like I've realized that that's something I need on the day-to-day.

08:42 Amanda Hammett: It is, and not just in business, I think. You know?

08:45 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, right.

08:47 Amanda Hammett: So in those times when you feel in your current role where you're stumbling, or you've hit like a roadblock or something like that. What's really helped you through that?


09:03 Danae Villarreal: We're gonna bring back to Joe. [laughter]


09:06 Amanda Hammett: Is this like a long Joe commercial? Is this... [laughter]

09:11 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, this is, this is... [laughter] I've approved this message for Joe Odell. No. I think that mentorship, that has been one of the biggest things is, find people that can tell you what is true about you. No matter where you're at in life, we're all gonna hit those hard times or whatever, those stress, whatever. It's so easy to get caught up in lives. But having people around you that can remind you of who you are and why you're doing what you're doing, and to just kind of reset your baselines, that for me has been one of the biggest things. It was even yesterday. I was like, I had like a thousand things on my plate and I was like, had even a moment where I'm like, I feel like I can't get anything done to the level of excellence I want or whatever. And so I just, I called Joe, and I was like, "Hey, these are the thousand things that are happening right now. Like help."


10:09 Danae Villarreal: And he kinda just like he didn't give me the answers like I kinda wanted him to, but he was like... He just did that thing where he's asking good questions, and like, "What are your priorities right now? Remember who you are!" And just gave me that thing where I could be like, "Okay, reset, breathe, start over again." So that's been just... I don't know, I love having mentorship in my life, so...

10:42 Amanda Hammett: Awesome. That's really a... Yeah, a fantastic mentor is always a game changer and a life changer really. So...

10:50 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, seriously.

10:50 Amanda Hammett: Yeah, good for you. Okay, so... You mentioned a little reality check early on in the interview, but you also mentioned a couple of other things. I'd like to circle back to them if you don't mind.

11:08 Danae Villarreal: Mm-hmm.

11:10 Amanda Hammett: And you didn't specifically lay this out, but you... I do know this about you, is that you left college. Tell us a little bit about that.

11:20 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, totally. [chuckle] So I went to college and studied music when I was... I feel like I was young. It's been five years since I left. And when I started, I had all of these ideas about how I was gonna maybe pursue a career in music. And my thought process was, "I'm gonna go learn all of the basics, and then I'm gonna be a rockstar somewhere." Which is hilarious that I'm now in this podcast, but I was thinking a musical rockstar.


11:58 Amanda Hammett: But you are a rockstar!


12:01 Danae Villarreal: Different kind, different kind. [chuckle] And so, I just realized, one, it was naive for me to pursue that particular educational path because it wasn't gonna really get me to where I wanted to be, and then, two, was even if I finish this thing, I don't wanna be a music teacher, I don't wanna be an opera singer, and so I moved on from there and I moved to Northern California where I really did a lot of soul-searching, and I went to a theology school to really explore my spirituality and what I believed about life, and I learned so much about myself. And, yeah, all along that was where I'm working in restaurants, and I'm delivering pizzas and stuff. And so ultimately I'm grateful for everything that I've done because it's gotten me to where I am today. But had I had the choice, maybe I wouldn't have taken out those student loans.

13:14 Amanda Hammett: Oh, those student loans. Yes, yes, yes. Alright, so we've talked a little bit about Joe, just a little bit. [laughter] But I know that there are some other bosses or coworkers that you work with on a very regular day-to-day basis over at 511. Is there anything that they do, besides Joe, to keep you engaged and motivated and ready to take on that next no that you're gonna inevitably hear?

13:48 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, definitely, so I honestly just... I am so honored to work for 511 because I didn't know the level of... Just like champion thing that I could feel from an employer until I started working for them. So the higher up C-level guys are so encouraging, definitely make a point to meet with us on a regular basis.

14:20 Amanda Hammett: So this is like Chad?

14:23 Danae Villarreal: Like Chad, Nicole, and Rick Sbrocca, they have met with me on multiple occasions, helping me figure out what's the next move. What are my goals for the next year? Where do I wanna be in five years? Where do I wanna end up?

14:37 Amanda Hammett: Awesome!

14:38 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, it's fantastic because even if they know that I'm not gonna end up with 511, they're still investing in me, which I'm like, that's crazy but amazing at the same time.

14:51 Amanda Hammett: It is.


14:55 Danae Villarreal: Gotta love those guys. So for instance, I had been with 511 for a year and I heard about this school in San Francisco called MissionU, around, I don't know, it would've been like 10 months ago, 11 months ago now. And it was a data analytics and business intelligence program. It was gonna pull me away from Redding where the offices and stuff, and I was like, "This seems kinda interesting, it seems like a path I could go down at some point. If anything, it'll enrich my career." And I just applied on a whim, and I got accepted and I found out that they only accept like, they accepted 20 of us and there was 5000 applicants or something...

15:47 Amanda Hammett: Wow!

15:48 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, so I find out, and I'm like, "Hey, Chad, I've got some news... " [laughter] And from the get-go, they were so supportive, they were like, "Yeah, we will do whatever it takes to help you make this happen. If this is the path that you wanna go down, we're gonna help you get there." So I tried to search for jobs, couldn't find anything part-time. People don't hire STRs part-time. I'm not surprised by that. But 511 was like, "Hey, you know what, we don't have remote employees, but we'll keep you on. We'll keep you covered until you get through your program." And it's just been... The level of generosity has just been out of this world. So, yeah, I'm so grateful to everyone, all of them.

16:54 Amanda Hammett: That's amazing.

16:54 Danae Villarreal: And even the other management there have been super great about connecting with me, whether it's through Slack or on phone calls and just staying in touch and keeping me, leaving me feeling like I'm still part of the team, even though I'm not in the office all the time, which is, it's just really valuable.

17:14 Amanda Hammett: That's really, really amazing. I didn't know that about you starting that program and kinda how that all went down. That's really... That's really cool, that they're supporting you in that way. I mean... That's amazing. I just don't have words for that, that's amazing.

17:34 Danae Villarreal:Yeah, yeah, it's, [laughter] it's really hard to find, you know? So it's been good.

17:43 Amanda Hammett: Yeah. I mean, when I met Joe originally, I could tell like the culture there was something that was really interesting to me, doing what I do. That's a lot of what I talk about is building that kind of culture and to see it and to see it the way it's grown organically there, has been really interesting to see from my perspective. But Joe is really nice enough to introduce me to Chad and to Rick, and just to hear them talk about it from their perspective, it's, yeah...

18:19 Danae Villarreal: Yeah...

18:20 Amanda Hammett: You're in a good, good place, [laughter] you know... In a very good place.

18:25 Danae Villarreal: I really am. [chuckle] I like, and it's like not even just the... The management is awesome and everything too. But like... When I started in the 511 like I really found... They're just good at hiring good people, you know, like...

18:44 Amanda Hammett: They are.

18:45 Danae Villarreal: We have such great culture across the board on all of the individual projects and teams. It's just like the best, the cream of the crop. [chuckle] So, anyway...

19:00 Amanda Hammett: Well, I mean and I think that their philosophy is, it's culture over skill. And I think that a lot of other companies should adopt a similar attitude, and that's what it is. Joe told me that first night that I met him, he was just like, "Absolutely, I look at culture. Are you gonna fit within our culture? Are you like, that kind of personality that we're looking for that will do well and succeed?" And he said, you had it. And that's why...


19:27 Amanda Hammett: You were like, "I don't know how I feel about this sales thing and everything," 'cause he knew he could teach you and he, I would imagine, is a wonderful teacher.

19:37 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, definitely.

19:38 Amanda Hammett: Awesome, that's really cool, good for you. Okay, so I'm very curious how you went from, you found this semi-interesting job posting from 511, for a sales role, which you'd never really done before. What is it that made you stand out to Joe? Like how did they pick you for this job shadowing day, how did that happen?

20:05 Danae Villarreal: I think it was the roller derby. [chuckle] To be honest, it was actually a combination of things. So it actually wasn't a job posting. It was a Facebook post that someone, like a friend of a friend had posted that like I know, and I was like... They have said that they were looking for sales people, and I was like, "Does selling pizzas count?" [chuckle] So I was at that point in my job search. And then, yeah, Joe had just said, like... He was just super impressed that I was actively involved in the roller derby league and he thought it showed a lot of grit, and I was like, "Oh, I've never thought of it like that before, that's cool." I'm so sorry...

20:52 Amanda Hammett: That's okay.

20:54 Danae Villarreal: Anyway. And then also, so when I initially had kinda shown a little bit of a hesitation like, "Hey, I need to think about this a little bit." He was like, "Okay." And so I ended up doing a mock call anyway and it was terrible, just like awful. I was so nervous and it was not good and he didn't tell me that that it was bad. And I actually like I just thought about it for a couple of days, and finally I was like, I'm just gonna call him and tell him like, I want this job because I... Like I just felt like, I just felt it. I was like, there is something about this, there is something about this that I need, like just for my life, I guess. And...

21:38 Amanda Hammett: Really?

21:39 Danae Villarreal: And so I, yeah, like I just... Just like, I could tell like you could like Joe is good people, and I was like, "I think I need that." Like I need that more but not right now. And, yeah, so I like called him, left him a voice mail. He gave me a call back, he's like, "Yeah, that voice mail was better than your mock call." So we're gonna give you a job. I was like, "perfect." [chuckle] So I think it was like the grit and like the persistence and the pursuit of it, and like actually getting vulnerable and like... I could've backed down to the fear of rejection and been like, "They'll call me," you know, but I, like very specifically was like, "No, I'm gonna... I have this dude's phone number, I'm gonna call him and I'm gonna let him know that, I think that this is a good fit," and so...

22:31 Amanda Hammett: That's really cool. That's awesome. [laughter] That he said that to you. That's terrible.


22:39 Amanda Hammett: So, speaking to our other companies that watch this and listen. What is it that you wish other companies knew about hiring younger employees? Because I would imagine, you said you spent three months on the couch, you said you put in countless applications, like... What do you wish that they knew? If you could speak directly to all HR people.


23:00 Danae Villarreal: All the HRs... Yeah, I think... Oh, that's a great question. I probably should have thought about this a little bit more, I'm sorry. I think that like, one of the biggest things is... For me, when I'm looking for a position or when I was looking for a position, the human factor was super important to me. Like, I... I get that the applicant tracking systems are a thing, and they're super efficient and stuff, but it's like, put a recruiter name on there or give me a way to pursue the lead, like give me, like throw me a bone kind of thing, you know. But also, just like, I think that it's really important, if you are trying to attract young talent, I think these days, we all want the same thing, like we wanna be known and we want the people around us to invest in us, but we also wanna invest in the people around us.

24:17 Danae Villarreal: And so, creating that culture and making sure that that's a new place and just making people know that it's available, and it's not just like... I don't think I could ever go to a job and just like clock in and clock out and that would be it.

24:37 Amanda Hammett: Right.

24:37 Danae Villarreal: I do not go for, you know. Life is too short to not connect with people. And so I think that all of those things combined. Like human connection is like where it's at.

24:52 Amanda Hammett: It is. You're absolutely correct.

24:54 Danae Villarreal: And it covers a multiple of sin, like multiple sins, you know, whatever. [laughter] So, yeah.

25:00 Amanda Hammett: Very cool, very cool. I love that. Yeah, no, I could not, could not agree with you more on that one in particular. Okay, fantastic. So I'm gonna put, if you don't mind, I'm gonna put your LinkedIn profile in the show notes, if anybody wants to connect with you. I will have that in there for them to do so. I hope that's okay.

25:21 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, that's great. I love connections.

25:25 Amanda Hammett: But, do what?

25:27 Danae Villarreal: I love connections though...

25:29 Amanda Hammett: Fantastic!

25:29 Danae Villarreal: Even if it's LinkedIn. [laughter]

25:32 Amanda Hammett: There you go, there you go. Well, thank you so much, Danae, for being on the show and thank you, you guys, for watching and we will see you in the next episode.

25:41 Danae Villarreal: Thank you.

25:42 Amanda Hammett: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstar podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at amandahammett.com. The link is below, it's amandahammett.com. There you can download a free Millennial Employee Engagement Guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day-to-day basis, because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

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