In the most recent episode of Taking The Lead, XSELL Technologies Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy, Tracey Tennyson sat down with Christina Brady to discuss a number of topics, including a conversation on finding a plan through not having one.  A few of the quick highlights in this article:

  • During COVID-19 times, the world has created a new normal, but change is coming again soon
  • Tracey Tennyson, XSELL Technologies’s Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy has a proven track record of success as a leader and shares important tips for others
  • Helen shares valuable insights on navigating the world and its ongoing change, leading with empathy, and the importance of not having a plan


Tracey Tennyson has a degree in social justice and a passion for impacting the greater good. While the trajectory of her career has shifted towards marketing in the tech industry, her core beliefs related to the greater good remain at the forefront of her mission.

In this week’s episode of Taking the Lead, the women discuss the power of empathy and understanding how effective leaders maintain control while considering the feedback of others.

Change is inevitable, so you have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

If there’s anything Tracey has learned from her long experience in event and client management is that the change will happen no matter what, and that’s okay. It’s safe to say that the event industry was one of the most affected by COVID-19. Being in the event industry, you’re used to facing the unknown and unpredictable regularly, so adjusting to the new situation was the most obvious step for you. Tracey explains that you have to learn to adapt to achieve your end goal, despite changes in circumstances.

The most impactful piece of advice that Tracey has given her team and personally implements in her life is to “slow down to speed up” when preparing for an upcoming change. Especially in COVID-19 times, people have been forced to reconfigure their lives to accommodate for the changes. The same changes will need to be made soon as life starts to open up again. Tracey recommends slowing down and giving yourself time to check in and prepare for the speed up of life that is approaching. Doing so will make you more prepared and less stressed in the moment.

Leaders should avoid empty empathy.

Christina and Tracey discuss the difference between empty empathy and executive empathy. According to them, it’s essential to lead with empathy but also take action on it. There’s no point in getting feedback from your employees and then doing nothing about it.

Tracey explains that leaders can’t implement every single feedback, though, because it will hold up their process. Instead, here’s what she suggests they do, “Let’s think about how we can take components of people’s feedback, and then go back to them and say, ‘I heard you, and here is what parts of that feedback we are going to be implementing.”

To avoid empty empathy, it must be accompanied by respect for fellow team members, especially when trying to conceptualize a plan or strategy. While it is impossible to implement every recommendation, leaders can acknowledge the input from team members by saying “I heard you, and…” With this technique teams can continue to effectively collaborate using the feedback that supports positive growth in the team whether that be through implementing their feedback or simply appreciating their participation and engaging in productive communication tactics to create an even better solution.

Not having a life plan can actually take you places

Tracey has a passion for working with new professionals and helping students kick-start their careers. She shares her experience and explains, “They come out of college with this vision that they need to have a five-year plan, a ten-year plan, and that what they’re doing today will be what they do for their life.”

If there is anything that we can take away from this past year, it is that plans can change in an instant. Having such a strict plan can hurt us more than help us in some cases.

Tracey says, “The ability to open up your mind to the idea that if you hold onto that tightly enough, that being uncomfortable in not having a plan can actually take you down a path that is undeniable around what you’re great at. And I think that’s a really inspiring way to live your life, both personally and professionally, if you can be as uncomfortable in that space as it requires you to be, to really find your path.” There is a level of strength and confidence that is necessary in order to let life take its course without sticking to a plan. However, the benefit of doing so is that a path will emerge that is ultimately going to be a better fit for you in the short and long term.


This article is based on an episode of Sales Assembly’s podcast, Taking The Lead, which features top female B2B Tech Revenue Leaders, VCs, Advisors, and Icons. Bi-weekly episodes dive into a tactical topic to help listeners (regardless of gender or seniority level) learn how to be better, faster, and smarter as they navigate the craziness of the Revenue world within B2B Tech.