Episode 003 – Leveling Up Your Learning Approach with Sarah Musick


In this episode, we speak with Sarah Musick, Cloud Solution Architect at Intel.

Not only do we dig into Sarah’s Path to PreSales, but we get really tactical on learning routines, habits, and mindset that can help you be successful in your pursuit of your first role, next role, or next promotion within tech and, specifically, PreSales. Regardless of where you are in your career journey, whatever you may be focused on learning right now, there are some really actionable takeaways in today's show.

Hit play and subscribe to get more great episodes like this every Friday! 

Key Takeaways

  • Try Incorporating a review of the hard things you’re trying to learn before bed.
    • Tap into the power of the subconscious, get it working for your advantage
  • Make scheduling out your learning journey a priority and, importantly, give yourself buffer within the schedule that you set.
    • Sarah never schedules intentional learning more than 5 days a week
    • Be realistic about your schedule. Consider starting with a smaller volume of study blocks and building up from there
    • Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get the cadence right the first time; Adjust and move forward
  • Be mindful of self-talk and the impact that can have on your mindset which can, ultimately, impact your overall performance.

PLEASE NOTE: I use an AI-based service for episode transcriptions, so please forgive any transcription typos found below!

[00:00:00] Matt Madden: All right. Hey everyone, this is Matt Madden. I'm here with Sarah Musick. So Sarah, I'm gonna let you introduce yourself, but so glad to have you on the Path to Pre-Sales podcast and yeah, if you wouldn't mind just taking a moment to give everyone a sense of, where you're at today before we dive into your pre-sales journey, that'd be really great.

[00:00:18] Sarah Musick: Mm-hmm. Thanks for having me, Matt. Um, I'm Sarah Musick. I'm a cloud solution architect at Intel. So if you know a little bit about how Cloud architect roles work, you can have a couple. One is in a corporation or the other is in a pre-sales organization. So I am aligned with pre-sales and I've been there for coming on a year and a half, and it's a good time.

[00:00:47] Matt Madden: That's amazing. Sarah and I had the good fortune of working together. It's where I got to know you, I know you've done great things there. It's been amazing to watch your journey and just kind of see you excel, from when you moved on to your next opportunity and to where you're at today.

So definitely wanna unpack that. I had a question I wanted to start with, if you don't mind. Pre-sales roles go by many names, obviously solutions consultant, sales engineer, field engineer, and so on. And unless someone's already working within a company where teams exist with those types of roles or, you know, working in tech at maybe as a buyer and their investor, they cross paths with sales engineers at some point, uh, it's more than likely than not, they might not have ever heard of the role.

Um, at least that's what I run into a lot. Has that been your experience?

[00:01:34] Sarah Musick: It, you know, it has, I think there are some general trends. I think solution engineer is one trend. Uh, I think systems engineer, um, maybe another architect sometimes, although that one's usually more niche in, in a direction. And solution consultants, sometimes I. What I've seen the most of is sales engineer or solution engineer, maybe architect, you know, solution consultant.

So, but it is, it is all over the map and I've seen, as I'm sure you've seen on social media, some of the joking about the litany of names that are given pre-sales, you know, technical sellers. Uh, so I, I like, I like. The overarching heading of technical seller because it does give the sense that you have that unicorn skillset.

You are, you know, you're good with people. You like the sales process, you're collaborative, but you are the technical lead. You have some expertise, you know, that's there to move the sale along.

[00:02:39] Matt Madden: Awesome. No, definitely. I love that perspective and I wanted to go back to the moment, if you can speak to that, of when you first learned about the role of pre-sales in your journey, whether that was I, were you already in tech or were you in another role and just kind of learned about this?

Could you take a moment to take us on that

[00:02:59] Sarah Musick: Yeah, that's a great question. So I, I've, I had been in tech for much longer than I had been. Um, in pre-sales as a, as a solution engineer, as a sales engineer, and I started out as a seller, I started out. You know, pounding the pavement and making calls and putting together prospecting lists and for tech, and I loved, I loved technology, so I knew I'd found my home, but I also knew that long-term sales as an alignment for me personally, maybe wasn't necessarily the best fit.

I was a performer. I had the numbers to prove that I could stay and continue to do it. You know, probably pretty, pretty successfully. For, for me, in the way I'm aligned, and I think this is a theme that I've heard and seen in a lot of people who are really good at presales. They like to be part of a team and they like supporting somebody else's success.

So I, I liked rallying a team together as a seller, but I, I like being out for somebody else's success. I get a charge out of that and I, I do. Getting really nerdy with the tech. So those weren't some of the reasons why long term. I did have an ambition to move toward pre-sales and it took me a little while to do that, but I, you know, I kind of saw the writing on the wall early that that would be a good fit for me.

[00:04:30] Matt Madden: That's awesome. Well, we're definitely gonna talk about the skills that are helpful for those who want to get nerdy with the tech as well. So I want to come back to that and I definitely relate to that as well. As, you know, my background also is from wearing the, sales hat first and foremost, and for me that's been super helpful and continues to be helpful.

Obviously, knowing. What the account executive that we're partnering with, you know, we're in this together, in this journey of, ensuring that our solution is a good fit for the customer, the potential customer really on the presale side and gives a depth of perspective, but, For those that maybe are, are transitioning into pre-sales or they're coming from a totally different path, they might, you know, not even be in tech.

Maybe they're working in something like, uh, let's just say healthcare or physical therapy, or it could be something, you know, just pick an industry then that isn't a technical role. Within that, do you think it's essential for them to have, that kind of sales background? What can they do to help build that skillset if they don't have it today, what would you, what would you recommend?

[00:05:37] Sarah Musick: Yeah, I would. A couple things cuz I think, I think that's a great question. I would say if you enjoy communications, and it doesn't necessarily have to be all verbal. If you enjoy written communications, if you like crafting thoughts and putting together a complete arc. It could be a really good fit for you.

And, and one aspect of that that's really interesting to me and I, I wanted, I've been looking forward to mentioning this cuz I knew we would be speaking, both of us love music. Both of us have mu, you know, musical aptitude. And I have a former colleague who is a former C I O, you know, really accomplished.

And one of the biggest things that he looked for, In, the technologists that he hired was an interest and inaptitude in the performing arts, which is wild to think about, but it's because of the ability to present yourself, the ability to put together a complete thought a lot of times the discipline that's required, um, just to, to learn an instrument or to learn how to sing really well.



I think there are a number of different backgrounds that would fit that


maybe fine arts or liberal arts. Vantage point that makes people successful. Mark Cubans talked about it, that people from, you know, the future of business is actually probably in a liberal arts education, which of course for a lot of people who have liberal arts degrees, they kind of get out of school and think, what did I do?

But I really do believe in it as, as a, as a foundation.

[00:07:26] Matt Madden: and

[00:07:27] Sarah Musick: You know, from a technical perspective, there's a, there's a big rock to push uphill, uh, from that standpoint. But the, the DNA that it takes, I think is, is the key indicator that'll make somebody successful long term.

[00:07:44] Matt Madden: I'm so glad that you brought up, brought the arts into the conversation because Sarah's being humble, but she's an incredible singer, so. Uh, I hope you don't mind me saying that, Sarah, to put you on the spot, but, uh, you know, Sarah knows that I play guitar. Um, that's certainly one of my passions outside of, outside of pre-sales and, uh, you know, just family life and so on, but, Yeah.

So in Sarah, I know you also have, as far as the liberal arts and skills go, a background in creative writing. Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but you know, doing writing professionally before you were in pre-sales and other roles, would you mind speaking to that? Cause I think I know the value of, just effective business writing is such a superpower, if you can do that well, Kind of command the word, not only presenting, which you mentioned and we've talked about on the show as well.

Others have have mentioned just the power of getting out there and getting involved in things like, community events where maybe you can present and speak even if it's not business related and so on. But yeah. Would you mind speaking just to the power of writing and how that's helped you?

[00:08:50] Sarah Musick: Yeah, the aspect of writing. Absolutely. So, you know, again, with the fine arts background, there's actually a lot of writing that's involved in that, and I think that was, that was good to learn early on because whether it be an email that you're writing to somebody you're hoping will look at your resume or.

A prospect who you're hoping to hook for that first meeting or somebody that you're following up with with technical information saying, you know, this is, this is how I wanna couch the conversation that we just had as we continue to move forward. You know, all of those are really helpful aspects. That's how I started writing.

I've always really kind of enjoy. The wordsmithing aspect, verbal or written. And in, in my journey in tech, uh, I finished up a role. I, I wasn't especially happy there and I didn't have something lined up yet and knew enough people in town that I tried my hand at technical writing for a while doing technical copywriting because I'd seen enough to know that.

And this is, again, for, for pre-sales folks who wanna help. The organization, technologists typically are phenomenal at executing and often struggle in articulating their value and, and the values there. It's just that communication piece can be really, can be really challenging. So that's what I did for a bit is, uh, before, before I came to stratified, I was working with, um, solution integrators and, government contractors.

Some of them had defense contracts.


Working on their copy and making sure that they were conveying themselves effectively. And that was, that was fun. It was a, brief fish stint, but I think I grew a lot as a presenter because I was presenting for somebody else and they weren't gonna keep having me back unless I was effective at, uh, writing about them.

So it was a good, it was a good learning experience.

[00:10:56] Matt Madden: that makes sense. Somebody very wise told me. Wherever you are, you should always be learning, and that should be a core part of what. Exciting you about the role. That should be one of the key growth paths, obviously. I mean, there are a lot of things that are important when we think about what's a good fit for us, but at the end of the day, instead of just checking the box, having a role where you can do that consistently, you know, thinking about how do you expand, so even if it's a role, like you said, you were transitioning from, you were in tech and then you, you found an opportunity where you could be focused on building skills that are, that are gonna be extremely valuable for you.

The tech world that you might have ultimately wanted to be in and, and you eventually transitioned into. But I think that's really helpful for listeners because obviously at all different seasons of life, we may have different opportunities where, you know, maybe you were working in a industry or vertical or particular position that you don't see yourself.

Really making a career within, but how can you view that as an opportunity to build skills that are gonna be valuable for that path that you really are wanting to target, whether that's pre-sales or cybersecurity or, or any role. So, uh, thanks for sharing that.

[00:12:15] Sarah Musick: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, uh, you know, as a point of encouragement, For people who have industry experience outside of tech, those may be industries that you turn around and sell into. And so that experience actually is something that will be looked for by the customer. It's a proof point to them.

So I would, I would not by any means, undervalue some of that experience, you know? There may be questions about, you know, was, was that time well spent? And I don't think we need to agonize too much, but I often have seen, not just for myself, but for others, that that time ends up being redeemed in a very serendipitous way.

[00:13:01] Matt Madden: Absolutely. Yeah, I've observed that too, where. You see somebody coming in that. Is transferring from a background that maybe isn't a very specific vertical, but the company that they're going to work for as a pre-sales professional, like you said, that's one of their key areas that they're trying to do business with.

And now all of a sudden you're the subject matter expert that people are coming to you. You might not know the product as well as others, or there might be some tactical skills that you need to shore up, um, that are very specific to the product and you successfully understanding it. But when it comes to the domain that.

You're gonna be operating within, you can really be a specialist in there. So it can be kinda one of the superpowers that you have that you're bringing to the team and definitely can position effectively. So, um, that, that's a great point. One thing I wanted to ask you related, but it comes to your mindset when there is an area that you're going to learn, the first time, you know, they're, I'm sure you like me on my journey, have come to these points where it's like, okay, here's, here's kind of a net new technology or, workflow.

Something I have to really dive in and take on. Uh, whether it's because I'm at a smaller company and. Somebody needs to step up and wear maybe this hat today and, and I can learn by figuring out how to do that. But can you just speak to your approach when you're in that situation? I think it could be really helpful for others to hear, because you know, maybe they're facing that and they're stuck.

They're like, where do I start? Cuz it can be so overwhelming when you just go, go down the Google rabbit hole of, let me find a resource, you know, in this day and age that can really help me with my learning style. So can you speak to your learning style?

[00:14:42] Sarah Musick: Yeah, so I'm, I'm a big reader, so, so there, there is that aspect, but I do think there's value. There's so much content out there. So, you know, Udemy is an example of, a place where you can go as broader, as deep as you want. I, I work in sprints, so, I think. Typically, and I think everybody learns differently.

If there's something I really wanna learn and, and some of this is probably just cuz I'm, uh, under, under the surface, I'm a pretty strong-willed personality. So I will sit down and I will make myself learn it until I feel like I, I haven't learned and, uh, as. OCD as it sounds, I'll map out a calendar and what the calendar actually does is it frees me up.

So if I've committed to learning a certain amount of content a day, you know, over the course of a month, and then I'm give, gonna give myself time off, you know, maybe even a couple months, and I set myself up for that kind of intense learning season. If I've gotten to the end of something, I will make myself walk away.

I'll go. You know, go on a walk or I'll go play with my kids or all, you know, silly stuff, you know, take everybody out for ice cream or go get my meals done or just, you know, something, something to recharge myself outside of the content. And so, so that's some of it. Um,

[00:16:12] Matt Madden: Um

[00:16:13] Sarah Musick: I do believe in learning right before bed, you know, or reviewing right before bed because the brain actually works on things in your sleep.

So you're actually priming your brain to continue to work on the information. So, especially for hard stuff where you feel like you're a little bit up against a wall, I've, I've found that to be really helpful. You know, even just 20 minutes before bed, kind of review something and then it starts to click, after a few days or a week or two.

[00:16:42] Matt Madden: Oh man, that is an awesome tip. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, that it's true. Like you said, I mean, I'm sure many of us have heard that your brain is kind of working stuff out in the subconscious while you're sleeping, so why not prime it like you just suggested? With something that, you know, is tough, you know, you're not gonna quite have under your belt, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for another month, however long it takes.

But you can at least let your, your subconscious ship away at that. And who knows, you know, when you pick it back up, it just might click that much faster. So That's awesome. And I, I love, uh, you know, just coming back to some of the things you shared a moment ago on your process about calendar, um, I want to, I wanna speak to that, but did you have a follow up that you wanted to share?


[00:17:24] Sarah Musick: Oh, yeah, it was a little silly. But, you know, the book fairs that you used to go to as a kid? I, for the longest time, I had a Garfield, uh, bookmark and it said, learned by Osmosis, and it was Garfield at the bottom and this huge stack of books sitting on top of his head, which, uh, and of course, you know, Sleeping with a stack of books on your head isn't gonna do much good.

But the, the setting at night right by, you know, the setting right at night, right before bed, is the closest that I think you can get to learning by osmosis. Just, you know, looking at it. So I, I've always kind of had that visual in mind when I, you know, when I do that because we're tired. So many of us work so hard and, letting your brain do some of the work.

Doing it consciously can can help.

[00:18:17] Matt Madden: That's great. The, the great wisdom of Garfield. I. Unfortunately have worse Garfield memories sticking with me of like how he cuts a little slice and then he takes the whole cake or whatever as his slice and that's the Garfield piece. That's, that's the first thought that comes to mind with Garfield.

So had to just skip that off my chest cuz yours is a much better example where Garfield's actually given some good advice. So,

[00:18:41] Sarah Musick: That's cute.

[00:18:42] Matt Madden: let's talk about scheduling, because you brought that up and you mentioned that you like to, Account for rewards in the process, which I've heard other people's recommend as well.

Um, just, you know, in reading, I, I'm a big reader as well. I've found that to be super helpful too. So, I mean, for everybody out there who is maybe trying to, let's just say get a certification that they feel is gonna be key to helping them break into a role, it could be a, a pre-sales role. Maybe you want to go work as in a pre-sales function in cloud computing like Sarah does, and you want to get your, cloud solution architect cert with AWS or Google or just name the cloud Azure.

So, That being the case. I mean, there's,


that's a pretty daunting path because there's a lot of content and breaking that up is something that, if you can map that out, I think it can really help. At least in my experience, the times I've done that, I'm like, I'm so glad I did that, because it takes the edge off the overwhelm.

It's not this like void of, Look at all these things I have to learn and where do I start? And, and so how do you, even when you do that though, and I, I, at least this has been my experience, it's easy to beat yourself up and get discouraged and then off the wagon for longer than you should have and your learning journey, uh, if you, you know, miss a day or two in that schedule, you mapped out.

So how did what's been helped you get back on track if you've been in that scenario?

[00:20:16] Sarah Musick: Yeah, that is, that is a challenge. You know, of course there's just life getting in the way. I would also say personalities who are attracted to pre-sales as a role tend to be kind of hard on themselves, and that is, that's part of what makes us good at what we do. Having, having said that, You can always redo the calendar, you know, and I even.

Cringe when I have to do that. But that is just the, the reality sometimes, and especially if you've already done it already and you have a cadence, if you have to push that cadence back, there are worse things. There really are. But at least you've set up, you know, maybe a mechanism of, you know, you mentioned the solution architect starts over a six month period.

What is that gonna look like? And, um, one thing I do to. Avoid that is I never set up study calendars that are more than five days a week. So I always give myself two days of buffer, hopefully with the assumption that I'd be reviewing, but it does happen, you know, where I get three or four days behind.

But in that case it's easier to catch up partly cuz I've given myself those days. Um, so, and then I try to make the tempo relatively. even. So I, I, I try to plan against it a little bit because, you know, it's gonna happen. Just stuff, stuff happens. So, so I

[00:21:52] Matt Madden: a good word there. A buffer, uh, in building that in, you know, and that's something I've learned the hard way in certain situations, even as a pre-sales professional.when it comes to. You have different things that you are committing to from demos, to projects. Maybe you're assisting, uh, internal team, like marketing with an asset that you're helping develop that's related to go to market or things of that nature.

And building in that buffer, even if you think you can get it done within x amount of time. maybe doubling that or adding, another day or two, something reasonable, but a cushion that can allow for the dynamic elements that can be, a reality of the role, you know, where it's like, something might take priority that you have to move to the top of the list and thank God you had that buffer if you factor that in.

But same with learning too, like you said, life happening and so on. and even if the buffer isn't enough, Giving yourself a break, like you said, life happens and just figuring out how do I adapt and overcome and, and get back on track. So,

[00:22:57] Sarah Musick: Mm-hmm. And I think it, you know, in terms of the, a actual content, and we haven't gotten to that piece quite yet, but in terms of the actual content, there are two ways you can do it. And it kind of depends on your frame of mind. I do one of two things. I either start with the easy stuff. And do housekeeping first so that I can then concentrate on the one thing that I know is gonna be really tough for me and just hammer it or.

You can start with the hard thing first so that it's downhill from there. A lot of that for me depends on how much pressure I'm dealing with outside of my study, so whether it be personal or whether it be at work, if I'm under the gun. I don't wanna put myself in a situation where I'm starting with the hardest stuff first, cuz I'm gonna get discouraged.

If I have a little more emotional bandwidth, I probably will just because it's confidence building to knock out that, that those first big things. So that would be something else I, I would say is being mindful of the content relative to kind of what's going.

[00:24:07] Matt Madden: That's great advice and we're gonna dive into the content soon cuz I wanna get your thoughts on just for somebody coming into the role. What would be maybe some of the most effective low-hanging fruit content to make sure that they know or start learning. But before that, I just wanted to make one quick comment.

Cause you talked about starting with the hardest thing first, and it reminded me of, uh, a great book I read by Daniel Pink, and you may have heard of it, I think it's called, it's all about timing, but it's called when. Um, so I'll link to that. Are you familiar with that book?

[00:24:38] Sarah Musick: Yeah, I've, I think I've, you know, seen bits of it. I've not read it, but yeah, I've heard really good things.

[00:24:44] Matt Madden: Yeah, it's, it's a good read, short read. Definitely good on audio book too. I mean, I don't know. For those that are out there that listen to podcasts, uh, you may very well also listen to audio books and, and I've certainly been a big audio book nerd for a long part of my life, uh, as well as podcasts. But, you know, some voices are harder to get through than others on an audiobook.

I think, I think Daniel Pink does a great job on there. So, uh, he's not paying me to save that. Obviously never met him, but, uh, but yeah, one thing they talk about in the book is just the circadian rhythm and how your energy level throughout the day can work to your advantage in terms of how you're prioritizing learning and work.

And so for those that are out there that are looking for a new book and. Resonating with what we're talking about, and they're like, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Maybe I should do the hardest thing At like that point of the day when peak energy levels are typically at play for most humans, daily rhythm, then it can be really kind of helpful insights just to learn there.

So good read, but, um, I'll, I'll get off that plug. So, um, I'll link to it in the show notes if, if anybody wants to read it. well let's go back to the content. You mentioned that. So let's say. Somebody came to you today and they're asking, what should I learn or focus on to land my first role as a pre-sales professional?

What? What comes to mind first? What would you recommend?

[00:26:08] Sarah Musick: There, there are any number of ways. That you can get started, and I think that's what's so challenging about it is there are a lot of ways that people came to it. I would start by targeting an industry or. A sub-discipline within tech that you would be interested in being a pre-sales professional for?

So in other words, don't boil the ocean. Find something that intrigues you. So when I, when I started at Stratified, part of what was so interesting is I had been doing copywriting directly previous to that for, um, a developer staff o. You know, company. So they offered, um, sta you know, staff augmentation to other software companies in developing applications and stuff like that.

And they specialized in neural network models. So I knew nothing about neural network models to begin with, but all of a sudden, you know, I had some technical acumen as far as the, the hardware that was running those, uh, those models, but I didn't really know much to begin with and had to learn very quickly, and that was what ended up doing it for me.

You know, I, the, the, the background in analytics began to. Open doors as far as what kinds of jobs I would think of applying for, and you know, eventually at Stratified, got in the right room and was talking to the right people. So you really, it's hard to say what exactly it's going to be, but that would be the biggest thing is find something, learn it, you know, get pretty good at it.

If you can get a cert, it could even be a smaller accreditation, just so that people see that you have some of the subject matter. I think can go, can go quite a long, a long way.

[00:28:09] Matt Madden: Absolutely. Yeah. And that's such good advice aligned to something that is of interest of you. If it's building on something you were learning like in your story and. All your lessons so far on here are great ways to approach learning. They obviously worked well for you in that moment cuz I remember how quickly you came up to speed on the platform and it was just really impressive and aligned that to your skills, uh, yeah, at stratified.

So definitely good advice for those who, you know, regardless of which. Lane within tech you find most interesting, um, or space you want to go and learn and operate within, within pre-sales if you do want to grow to be a pre-sales professional. So, um,

[00:28:50] Sarah Musick: Agreed, and you don't have to stay with that. Don't assume that, you know, once you start into something that you're sort of bound to it. Forever. Uh, because you know, people, people will switch all the time. And, uh, so I do think, I wouldn't put the pressure on myself that this is, this is what it's gonna be for the next five or 10 years, cuz you don't know.

You just have to get in there and get started.

[00:29:20] Matt Madden: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, that kind of, that pressure in that sense of, you know, potentially being hard on yourself in the moment, especially if you're trying to break into a role in tech, like pre-sales or any other role, is something that. Is human, I think, to put on yourself in the, in those moments.

Um, and so I wanna spend a few minutes talking through a couple questions. and maybe we can speak to both, if you don't mind, in the lens of, imposter syndrome, but specifically, uniquely for you, Sarah. when it comes to,in anybody breaking into the role in this journey. I mean, there are people coming from so many different backgrounds that I'm just wondering for you as a woman in pre.

Uh, could you speak to your journey, your experience as a woman in tech, uh, when it comes to imposter syndrome and like just the journey throughout? Is there anything in particular that you think would be helpful for those out there to hear as we seek to, you know, Get more women working in tech, in pre-sale specifically, and, and just encourage them in that journey because, you know, it might, I would anticipate, there are, there are areas and days where it feels just, I imbalance is the reality right now.

[00:30:36] Sarah Musick: I love. Yeah, I love, I love that question. And there's a lot, there's a lot in there. Um, so I think I'm gonna start from both ends of the stick and work in, I think that's what I'm doing. But, so there's the issue of it, imposter syndrome. There's no, there's no simple way of dealing with it, but whatever way you choose to deal with it, you need to be consistent.

So I think self-talk, what you're saying, the internal monologue you have for yourself is so important because there are, I, you know, I think there are frequently times when the way I address myself mentally in my head is never the way I would speak to another person. And so I have to be mindful that I just need.

You know, take a step back. It's okay. Take a deep breath and move on. And you know, I worked with a career coach who I still just adore as a mentor and look up to, and one of the things that he said is that you don't have to feel like you are the thing. That you intend to be today, you. You get up and you do, and you learn, and you do and you learn.

And then you start becoming, and then you do and you learn and you keep doing some more. And then one day you wake up and you genuinely realize I am. And. That, that moment is, is really good at diffusing imposter syndrome. But, um, it is, it is a real challenge and I, it's a challenge for women, I think. Um, and, you know, of course not just women, but I think because the industry, you know, has.

A lot of male talent. There are women sometimes who feel like, do I, do I belong here? Is this a place where I should be? Is, is this somewhere where I'm welcome And my strong, strong message would be Absolutely. And there are, I've, I've been so blessed because there have been so many advocates that I've come across, champions who, who gave me a voice or who gave me a chance to say something. And, so the industry's hungry. It's hungry for, for female talent. And I'm not gonna say it's easy cuz it's not easy for anybody. And it can be a challenge, like, you know, I had a couple experiences early on in particular that weren't the nosiest from the standpoint of being a woman. But the further you get into it, the more you find and the more, the more talented.

The teams, the more talented the people, the more open-hearted they are, which is really interesting to me. And they're gonna embrace a woman that they see putting in the hard work and with a good attitude and looking to do something, looking to make a difference. So I just, I get so excited when I see women making the call to, to jump in.

[00:33:32] Matt Madden: Absolutely. Well, thank you for that encouragement because you have had an amazing journey, your path to pre-sales and not just saying that I've loved cheering you on since I unfortunately no longer was working with you because you were amazing to work with and just, I think that's so great for everybody to hear because you know they're gonna be, Times throughout, everybody's journey where, we're gonna face adversity, we're gonna face things that feel, you know, just, just this strong sense of,how do I work through this?

And I think it's great that you, you mentioned a career coach being something that's been effective for you. Um, and I've never, I've never worked with a career coach, but.maybe outside the episode I'll just kind of pick your brain a little more on that. But I mean, would you just quickly mind speaking to that?

I mean, in terms of, if people were thinking that sounds like that could be helpful for me, what would you share with them? Like, you know, good, bad, and the ugly.

[00:34:25] Sarah Musick: Yeah, the the biggest thing I would say is that, Depending on the coach that you end up working with, they may or may not know a whole lot about the industry that you're interested in. Mine, mine didn't, he didn't know a whole lot about tech, but that didn't prevent him to be, uh, a huge change agent in my life.

And it was because there are patterns across industries across. Human behavior in the workplace. And that was the biggest thing that he equipped me with, is understanding myself in the workplace, understanding other people and, and different things that you see, and then plugging that into whatever industry you're in.

And I was at that point, you know, I was able to take it the last leg, you know, as far as the application in, in tech. Um, but it, you know, a lot of it was.

of it

Learning about

was about

what made myself tick in a, in a workplace situation because one of the things he did say to me was, you need something complicated cuz you're very analytical and you're gonna get, you know, bored easily.

So somebody who you get comfortable enough to kind of tease you a little bit. I think all those things are really good. So I am an advocate for that. It is an investment. So, um, if it's not something that, you know, you feel. You can do right now. It's not, you know, the be all, end all, but it sure is. It sure is helpful, especially when you have inflection points.

[00:35:58] Matt Madden: That's amazing. Well, thank you for sharing that. I think that'll be really helpful for those out there if they're like struggling to find a career coach cuz they're thinking this person has to be working in, the industry that I wanna go work in or that position. And while that can certainly be very helpful, like you said, there's just a lot in general that somebody else's perspective can help you realize.

And you know, I've, I've found that through other mentors. You know, don't even necessarily work in tech or, family and so on. So just finding those people that, that can be really helpful for you.

[00:36:29] Sarah Musick: Agreed.

[00:36:33] Matt Madden: couple last questions if that's good for you. Um, before we wrap things up, wanted to take this unique opportunity to have you speak to specifically if somebody wanted to do what you do today, uh, in your current role, you know, working at Intel. What, what advice would you give them? Like, where should they start?

If they're really interested, you know, they, they wanted to listen to this cause they heard, here's, here's Sarah music and she's working at Intel in the cloud space. That's where I want to be in my pre-sales journey. What would you tell them?

[00:37:05] Sarah Musick: There are two main paths typically that have led, LED people to. Uh, an architecting role in the cloud. And you know, for me at Intel, in Intel in general, it's a little unique because Intel processors sit across the clouds. So we actually have to be dangerous in more than one, which is a whole nother, you know, egg to boil, so to speak.

It, you know, it does make it complicated, but that's why I like it. Uh, usually, uh, folks have either come out of the data, Or they have come from solution engineering, so they do have a pre-sales background. I would, I, you know, I'll just be candid and say I did have background in data center and that, you know, that's more common in the solution engineering role, but not, not always.

Sometimes it's a developer background, you know, if they're really heavy into code. Uh, and, but at the end of the day, it's about constructing systems or coming up with maps. Of an effective use of cloud services to make a business successful and doing it in, in a, in a collaborative way that empowers the customer, of course, to make their own decisions, but to give, uh, wisdom and to shine light on things that they may not have have thought of.

So the cloud certs huge way to get yourself skilled up for that there. There's so much hiring that's going on right now in the cloud. You know, even with the layoffs in tech and, you know, some of the anxiety about the economy, there's, there's a ton of hiring going on. Um, so I would say,

[00:38:48] Matt Madden: would.

[00:38:50] Sarah Musick: you know, finding, finding opportunities to learn more about data center that history's good or.

You know, maybe getting a little bit into the code, a little dangerous, a little python, a little Java, and it doesn't have to be, you know, extensive, uh, but those are great places to start. And then of course, the cloud starts is what I would say.

[00:39:12] Matt Madden: Awesome, awesome. Is, is there one or a few learning. There resources in particular that, that you like, I mean, that, that you'd wanna plug?

[00:39:23] Sarah Musick: Yeah, there, there are a few, I, I am a Udemy loyalist cuz there are a few instructors on their, like Stefan Merrick for folks who've been exposed to him who I just think are fabulous. So, so I would, I would probably, I would probably say they're just, cuz you know, it's a good bang for the buck.

[00:39:46] Matt Madden: Amazing. One that I'll plug I found really helpful, at least for my learning style, was it's called a, a Cloud gu. Um, and I believe they were bought by Pluralsight. Don't hold me to that, but I'm pretty sure that's

[00:40:00] Sarah Musick: I'm not sure.

[00:40:01] Matt Madden: And yeah. But, um, yeah, when I got my aws, um, uh, solutions practitioner cert, uh, it was like spent al a year and a half ago or so, uh, I found, found it really helpful.

So, you know, if you. If, if you're looking for just, you know, videos that'll take you through it, um, with, with, they actually will break out something we talked about that learning calendar where they have this nice, um, Plug in your time calculator, like, how much can I really commit to this? And it'll say, based on this lesson, the content, we recommend you study X amount this week.

You know, and, and you can take that for what it is. So there are other calculators out there for people, but yeah, that's, that's one I'll plug as well, and I'll include links to both of those things in this, in the show notes.

With that, I, if you go back through this episode, I hope it's one people re-listen to, especially if you're trying to break in a lot of good nuggets that Sarah shared with us throughout the way. So Sarah, I just wanna thank you again for coming on the Path to Pre-Sales podcast and yeah, I look forward to catching up again soon.

[00:40:59] Sarah Musick: Thank you, Matt. Appreciate it.

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