We recently spoke with Marcus Chan, Founder of Venli Consulting Group, a company he formed 19 months ago. Venli Consulting helps B2B sales professionals sell and earn more, all across the world. Apart from his role at Venli, Marcus is also an Executive Member of the Forbes Business Council, and a Salesforce, top sales influencer.
Apart from this, Marcus has also founded the Six-Figure Sales Academy, which is a high performance accelerator coaching program, helping sales professionals improve their skills quickly, regardless of whether they have lots of experience or only a little.
Clearly, Marcus wears many hats and is no stranger to success, which is why in this conversation, we dive into his top tips for success as a remote leader, dealing with imposter syndrome, fear of success, and more. Marcus shared loads of inspiring insights with us as he took us through his personal journey leading remote teams. Continue reading on or, watch the full interview.
"Leading remote teams was something I was forced to learn how to do quickly in order to get results."
Like many successful leaders though, the journey they took to get where they are today was fuelled by, a little luck, a LOT of hustle, and PLENTY of mistakes. Out of all the mistakes Marcus made, he shared two of his most pivotal ones, that helped him develop into the leader he is today.👇
"One of the big mistakes I made, especially early on leading people was, I believed everyone was wired the same way I was wired".
Marcus explained that at first, it was challenging for him to understand that others could be wired differently. He admits that it wasn't uncommon for him to get upset if a task he requested to be completed wasn't done properly. He quickly learned though, that he needed to look in the mirror and ask himself a few key questions.
Some of the most powerful reflections Marcus made came from asking these questions:
"I realized early on, especially when leading remote teams, oftentimes, if they're struggling, it wasn't necessarily because of them, because assuming it was the right person I hired, often that fell upon me for not effectively leading them, or providing systems in place, or coaching, or training, or feedback to help them be successful."
"When they were out there [working remotely], they felt like they were on an Island and they had no one to help them with anything".
Marcus stressed the importance of creating an environment of openness, where people can come to you and ask questions when they don't know how to do something. Without this, employees are left out in the dark and often feel like they need to fend for themselves.
"Some leaders act so busy or they're too high and mighty that they're not willing and open to get in the trenches with their team and uncover what the root issues are, or the problems, and help solve them."
"Going from an individual contributor to leading teams, I struggled with that balance, because I could trust myself to get something done, but I wasn't open to trusting other people. So that was definitely something I learned early on."
When you're leading remote teams, you can't be there 24/7. But, that doesn't mean you need to overcompensate by watching over their shoulder when you are there. Instead, Marcus emphasizes, that any good leader, needs to learn how to trust their employees. It doesn't stop there though, it's about empowering them to be successful in whatever they're doing.
That means, when you ask them to do certain things, take on a specific role or responsibility, you need to provide them the framework to be successful, and, on top of that, empower them to be able to tweak and adjust and make things better. When you create that environment for them, they can truly thrive. And, on top of that, Marcus believes that they'll actually put forth discretionary effort to help drive forward the team's results and the company's goals and objectives.
Whether you're a remote leader or lead any team for that matter, there are countless forces that threaten you, let's re-frame that into - challenge you, and prevent you from stepping into your highest potential. Marcus too has experienced his share of both.
"I started as the worst rep in the company and I second-guessed myself daily. With zero training and trying to sell during the 2007 Recession, I thought about quitting many times."
Growing up, we all experience fear, whether that be the fear of not having enough money, not being successful, not doing a good job, not having a good image, or not having a reputation.
"Even when I was starting in sales, when I was reaching out I felt like I was bothering people. That was really hard early on just to overcome that fear of failure. Once you learn how to overcome that fear of failure, or I'll say not overcome it, but continue to push through it, because it probably never really goes away, I mean, it still drives me even today. I don't want to fail. I want to do a good job."
Marcus shared that he believes everyone has a self-concept in terms of what they believe they can really accomplish. Maybe it's income for example. We normally tell ourselves, I believe I can earn X amount of dollars, $50,000, $80,000, etc. and once we hit that realm, we tend to stop ourselves. Marcus believes that it's at this point, we have a decision to make.
For most people, once they hit what they expect of themselves, they tend to pull their foot off the gas, because they're a little bit scared to go beyond what they're comfortable achieveing. It's because at this point they could have more success or, even more failure, but it's more a fear of loss Marcus thinks that people often experience, the feeling that they won't be able to keep up.
Rather than cap yourself at a limit, Marcus shares that one of his tips for overcoming that fear of success is actually hanging out with people who are doing and making way more than you. When you do this, suddenly, even if you hit your own self-concept of success, you're more likely to feel greater expansion into what is actually possible. Reason being is that you'll actually start believing you can do or make more because those around you are proving it's possible.
It's not uncommon to feel imposter syndrome in your role as a leader, but how do you ensure that it doesn't affect the way you perform your role or show up and support your team?
"This is where there's a tricky balance, but I believe there's a lot of power in vulnerability and, you know, it's not just calling up people on your team and complaining to them about how awful your day is, or whatever it's going to be."
Be open & get real - Being able to open up and show exposure to what is really going on in your life, shows vulnerability. Marcus shared that it's important to be real. For example, if you're on a zoom call and your kids suddenly burst into the room, just let it happen. You just don't make it a big deal. There's no need to act embarrassed for interruptions you can't control, as everyone can relate.
Just because you're a leader doesn't mean you can't share the unexpected interruptions that may throw your day into a loop. Get comfortable being open sharing with your team and don't be afraid to joke around to lighten the mood when something unexpected pops up.
Share stories of vulnerability when the timing is right - as an example, you have the perfect day planned out, and then your nanny calls in sick. If the situation has thrown off your day and you're left scrambling to figure things out, share this with your team. Rather than try to pretend that everything is fine, share what's going on. The act of you sharing this, often softens the space, allowing others to be more open about their struggles as well.
"At the end of the day, what I've learned, especially even as a kid growing up, you always think your parents have it all together, but you realize pretty quickly, that they're just trying to figure it out, every single day, just like you are right now."
The way you start and end your day is key to your success, this is no secret. Which routines does Marcus praise for keeping him sharp?
"I do like to wake up early, I'm one of those people who like to have a nice morning routine, with working out, affirmations, stuff like that. That just makes me feel really good."
Marcus shared that normally for the first hour of his working day, he's checking on his team and making sure everyone is in a good place and set for the day. Then from there, he starts reviewing the metrics and numbers, then the financials, making sure all the data is accurate. From there, it's however the day pans out.
Usually, Marcus has different meetings, strategy calls, client calls, or blocks of time that he's built out and set aside for focused work. Having everything really planned allows him to create solid boundaries so that when his day is done, he can shift into home life. Marcus sets clear communication guidelines with his team as well so they know when he is available and when he's off. He encourages his team to do the same.
With a distributed team, Marcus understands the importance of leaning into async communication and learning how to adopt new communication habits around them.
Working in the async space definitely requires a strong understanding of one's own boundaries and those of your team. All of this allows you to lead your team more effectively.
As always, we like to close off with a final question to get to know a bit more about the leader we're interviewing. Our final question to Marcus was - If you could be doing anything else than what you're doing, what would it be?
Watch the video interview to find out his response👇
To get in contact with Marcus Chan, connect with him on LinkedIn, and, if you're interested in strengthening your skills in Sales, check out Marcus' Six-Figure Sales Academy - his signature B2B sales coaching and training program! There are plenty of free resources to enjoy, and some free training too!