Keepin’ it 100 with Blaise Bevilacqua, UserGems

Keepin’ It 100 offers bite-sized tips and encouragement for revenue practitioners.

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The hosts:
Trinity Nguyen
Christian Kletzl

On this Keepin’ it 100, Trinity is joined by Blaise Bevilacqua, an avid traveler and Senior Account Executive at UserGems, a SaaS tool that helps companies connect with past customers.

“Traveling taught me flexibility. I still get butterflies when I am about to dial into a call because I do not know what people's personalities are like, and that can have a huge influence on the outcome. Think on the fly because things will not go as planned.”

Before his career in sales, Blaise Bevilacqua spent two years teaching English in Korea. By frequently hitchhiking to travel the country, he learned flexibility and how to connect genuinely with people, even if you do not speak their language, which helped his growth as a tech sales leader.

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Blaise's worked for both scale-ups and a publicly-traded company, his experience has helped him become a trusted partner with his clients through understanding the technical complexities as well as how organizations can operationalize on strategy. Some fun facts: he was in a Google commercial, trekked in the Everest Region of the Himalayas, and Tony Hawk once critiqued his skateboarding capabilities (wasn't good!)

Read Transcript

Trinity: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to The First 100 Days podcast in case you missed our previous episode this week, and next we take a break from work-related topics and interview sales and marketers who left the comfort of home to travel and live abroad. We'll hear how they apply learnings from these experiences into their professional lives.

And let's be honest. Who doesn't love hearing travel stories? We're all counting down until the borders reopened. We're all vaccinated and can travel again. Right? In any case, our second guest for this world, traveling theme is Blaise Bevilacqua Senior Account Executive at UserGems. Blaise left home to teach English in South Korea for two years

where he was the only English speaker in town, and yet managed to hitch hike all over the country. He recently left New York city again and is now living in Mexico city. Check out his story. 

Blaise: The first year I was in a coastal city in the South called Olsan, which is the manufacturing hub of Korea.

So like Kia, Hyundai, shipbuilding, all this manufacturing is right on the coast. It's like this pretty surreal place. And yeah, I just remember getting off the plane and then having my boss pick me up in his car and it was at night, and just seeing the amount of like fluorescent lights. Nothing was in English.

Nobody spoke English. And he essentially just said, okay, great. This was like a 16-hour flight. He was like, here's the keys to your apartment. He just dropped me off. He was like, go to the school on Monday. Here's the address. And so I had the weekend there just to be like, where am I? Pretty much, the first hundred days was just

getting acquainted to the place, trying as much food as I can, becoming friends with my coworkers, just exploring every nook and cranny of the city where I lived. So that was pretty much like the first 100 days, just like getting settled and acquainted into the culture 

Trinity: besides being dropped off completely in a foreign place.

And the first night or first day there, was there any other crazy story that you can share?  

Blaise: Pretty much every day was crazy. Just even going to mail a letter home was like an adventure. But what I did start to do was I hitchhiked all over the country starting like the first weekend and a lot of people picked me up.

Seventy-five percent couldn't speak English. But what I did was like, I found like an area that I wanted to go to, or like a cool, like temple outside of the city. And essentially what I did was just write it in Korean, stand on the street, like towards the highway. And people would pick me up. And I doing that, I hitchhiked probably every day or every weekend for two years and got to explore all over the country for that way.

And like, people would take you out to dinner, they would invite you into their homes, which is like not common in Korean culture, but that was pretty eye-opening. And like, it's something that I do miss. 

Trinity: So what are your three tips for those who are thinking of doing the same thing? 

Blaise: Yeah. My, my first advice, if any of the Americans are out there, our British friends or Asia has a lot of opportunities to teach English.

And it's a great way to live abroad for free because they pay for your apartment. They will fly you out and will, you will also get, you get a pension and a bonus. So the benefits are pretty amazing, but if teaching English, isn't your thing. Another thing that I've met a lot of foreigners doing is just becoming like content creators and

almost like just blog artists and just documenting their life abroad. And that's a good way to just earn a living through like affiliate marketing and having folks sponsor you, which is pretty cool. It's a lot of work, but it's a great way to travel. But for any like young folks getting out of college who don't know what they want to do, I would highly suggest looking into teaching careers in Asia.

Trinity: So any learnings that you took away from that experience that's transferable to your role now in the, in the revenue, I guess in the  revenue role? 

Blaise:  I think the biggest thing is about flexibility that I've learned because you just on a customer call you never know what you're going to get yourself into.

Like I still get butterflies when I'm about to dial into a call. And because you don't know what people's personalities are like, that can have a huge influence on how the outcome is and that's dedicated on your performance. So being really flexible and understanding like how to read people's body language, even though now on zoom is kind of difficult, but just being very flexible,

asking a lot of questions and making it about the customer, because people don't like to hear about other people talk about themselves. Just ask questions about the other person's day-to-day in life, and they will open up more to you and it'll really help you get your foot in the door if you're new into the sales world.

And I think that's probably the biggest takeaway and advice I would give is, is like the flexibility to not be nervous, but also to like think on the fly because things will not go as planned. So just always, always have that in mind that if you have a certain plan, it most likely won't end up that way.

Trinity: Do you have a note of encouragement or insights to share? Email me and we'll get you on the show at podcast@usergems.com. Thanks for listening.