Sue Salvemini: Focal Pointe Inc.’s Growth from the Executive Level
Prioritizing value to create a clear vision of what you want to achieve!
Sue Salvemini is the Founder and President of Focal Pointe, Inc.
Working with a diverse team of certified coaches, business consultants and experienced professionals, Focal Pointe will find the right person or team to support you. With over 25 years of combined expertise in executive level to mid-level leadership, sales, marketing and commercialization strategies, roles in the Healthcare, Medical Device, Finance, STEM, military and entrepreneurial fields, Focal Pointe is able to understand you, your business and embrace your challenges on a personal level.
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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go. Right with us right now we've got Sue Salvemini. Sue, you are the Founder and President of Focal Pointe, Inc. You're on the web at focal point with an e, p o i n t e, inc.com. And so Sue, what is it that you do because I know that you're very, very sought after our mutual friend raved about you and said that you you get to do some pretty big stuff.
Yeah, I am humbled and honored. I love what I do how many people can say that that's why I'm doing this. So I am an executive coach, I work with professionals, very high achieving and successful professionals at the CEO, C suite level, and usually their immediate team, and solopreneurs and entrepreneurs and I just help them take their already amazing, successful journey up up a few notches just to get it done faster, have have bigger, better results, and I help hold them accountable and help them look at things a little bit differently in times when they're getting in their way. So many great people.
Yeah, yeah, I was gonna say you're pretty successful what you do. Can you give us some, maybe some illustrations or evidence or some kind of like, no, here's some of the folks that I've worked with, or here's some of the results that we've been able to create.
Yeah, absolutely. So I have one company and I have to be a little bit confidential with some of them because they are publicly traded. But one company I T company. You know, when I started working with them a couple of years ago, the executive team was really just transforming from the original founders into a more global team had about six people on their team, their team has now moved and flown. abdin flowed, grown another, I want to say four or five transitions, and the company has doubled, doubled in size. Now, Is that me? specifically? No, but I've had the honor to participate at the executive level watching this team grow and develop and take, you know, a sub 500 million too much more working hand in hand with the CEO, CFO, the the CTO, all of the executives, as the team
coaching them individually. And so what are the
what are the problems when you go in? I mean, do you see patterns like you see certain things that you're like? Yep, I see this a lot. And this is why We're going to fix and this is how we're going to fix it.
So what's interesting is, when I go into the first, the first baseline premise of all of the work I do is that the clients I'm working with, they really are the experts on them. So and they're the experts pretty much on what they do. So I don't go in with my agenda. I go in. And I'm really fine tuned to hearing what their agenda is hearing if they've got things that are competing for their own headspace and their own strategy and thinking and actually can pick up when they're thinking might be limiting how they're viewing either their growth opportunity, or how they might be limiting their opportunity with their very successful team. And I say that because at this level, the people that are on their executive teams are highly successful high achievers, they didn't get there because they don't know what they're doing. So you've got a group, a room of people that are highly capable, highly competent and incredibly driven, and they all want to succeed. But the common thing that happens is just because they all have those attributes doesn't mean they always work as well together as they can and are able to. So I'll work with them both individually. And this is an interesting thing. I'll coach individually each member of the team and I'll work with them as a team, you know, very, very closely knit. And my focus when I work with them is not the tactical part of what they're doing. It's to be very cute in on how they are getting in their own way or getting in each other's way. And really try to eloquently help them come to that conclusion and shift attitudinally and functionally, how they're working together, how they're communicating with each other to maximize their results. And so it's it's, it's pretty awesome. And so when I get called in, I might get called them when there's no problem per se. It's not always a problem. There might just be A massive goal that we, you know, we're trying to grow, and we just feel that we're stumbling. And the truth is I chose this this segment, because the higher you go, the fewer people you have to talk to. Yeah. And when you add the element of a publicly traded organization, there's all sorts of I mean, there's a whole lot so I signed confidentiality agreements, I'm on blackout. You mean I've got insider information I can't. So it's it's a very high level, where the CEO or the CFO or the CTO or the senior people officer HR, whoever it is, they I'm, I'm a vessel for them to think through their thoughts to articulate what they're trying to do, and to have a sounding board not to give advice, but to reflect back what they're doing. And when I hear that they're, they sort of have a limited thinking or where they could, you know, broaden their thinking so that they're approaching their work their individual roles and their role as a a participant in the senior executive team with an opportunity mindset. And that frees up how they think. And it just helps them come up with ideas and solve and just catapult you know how they're thinking about moving the organization ahead.
What's working? Go ahead and with you, is it kinda like sitting down with a therapist or a counselor, and then they kind of maybe share some of the things that they're thinking about? And then you kind of walk them through that or what does that look like?
So it's that often they'll tease me and say, I'm their therapist, but I absolutely am not. I do not do coaches. My clients don't have coaches. And I don't try to decode or, or evaluate them. What I do is so it might feel like therapy because it's a vessel that they can articulate to, in a judgment free zone, truly, but what I'm listening to is more, you know, not what's going into why they feel the way they feel. I'm trying to understand How they themselves are blocking how they're thinking and addressing a situation. So for example, if one of my clients had a team member, this was not a senior executive team that was next tear down, they were struggling with how they were pulling together presentations for the the senior executive team. And what happened is, every time this person would present, he found himself on the defensive. What well, as he was articulating was doing, you could tell that anytime he was during his presentations, and he would be asked questions by the senior executive team. You know, he was as he's articulating how he was responding what I was picking up that he was completely in a defensive mindset. So through my questioning of you know, so what's going on in your head when they ask these questions, we go a few tears down and then he'll no no self say, Well, I feel attacked. So then with that, what I'll do is Okay, so let's rephrase. That if you weren't feeling attacked, how might you have answered these questions? And I walk him through the process where he comes up with the solutions on his own. And I don't necessarily know what that answer is going to be, which is what's so much fun about coaching. I don't have an answer. I just have the questions so that he can come to the answers. And I watched him shift from feeling that he may have been originally perceiving the questions as being attacked, versus perceiving the questions as they just need clarification. And it's a huge opportunity for him to, you know, even elaborate more and educate. So what happens for the client is, you know, he goes from going into these meetings, you know, on the defensive, which prevents his ability to listen and articulate what the what the group is needing. And now he can go in not feeling that he's on the defense and he comes in armed and more at ease and better able to represent his his program that he's proposing and able to listen and here so that he can then respond accordingly and meet their needs, which in the end, demonstrates the product in this case, it was a marketing platform that he wants them to understand. And so he's being offensive and can better represent what he's worked so hard on. And his team has worked hard on versus you know, boom boom, missing the what the questions really are, because he was more inwardly focused. I don't know if that
you know, most successful people that I know whether they're executives with a larger company or their founders of their own company, you know, you can create quite a bit of success with just sheer grit. But if you are getting in your own way, and I've been to like Tony Robbins business mastery and spoke to business mastery, the business mastery audience as well, like and one thing that he'll commonly talked about, I mean it is it is truly the thing that is keeping you from the next level most often is what's between your the founders. It's what's in your head. And that's that's the only thing that's keeping you from that next level. And one thing that I've seen very consistently, and I've seen this consistently among achievers is achievers surround themselves with experts and they surround themselves with coaches. They join groups and masterminds are learning from other people. And the minute that someone feels like they are no longer the student, and they are the master forget it is because they right right there. They just put a cap to their growth and growth is everything. I am learning stuff. I've got coaches, I've got groups, I am constantly exchanging ideas with people that are way smarter than I am in various areas. And so I just want to underline that fact that Sue, I believe that everybody who has the desire to rise professionally, it's the skills suit I'm sure that You go through with them are not what they learned in school. They're not what they necessarily learned when they were grinding it out at the beginning and kind of rose or maybe they're kind of emulating a leader from their past. Right? What you teach does not come natural.
No. And what's interesting is the reason it's so profound, I believe, and this is coming from, you know, years of truthfully, being the expert being not the expert, but I was in senior roles. So people were asking me my opinion. And and when I first founded my business, you know, I thought I would be a consultant. And I thought I would offer coaching just as a pillar in my business because I knew it was valuable. And then I started coaching and in that process, I had a coach. Now I had a coach while I was founding my business. I can tell you unequivocally my business was profitable in the first year because I had a coach because I was on the phone every week. With my coach and being a driven person, and this is why I work with driven people, because I did not was not going to get on that call, without one, knowing how I wanted to use the call. And to being able to report on the success I'd had in the week. My business exploded immediately, because I had that accountability. And I had that that person that would challenge my thinking to make sure I wasn't getting in my way. So what I find with my clients is, you know, some of the things that we talked about, are not necessarily new, but what I'm allowing them to do is take what they know about themselves, and what they recognize about the situation, challenge them. And they have to really think and as they come up with the answer, because they're coming up with the answer, and I'm not giving it to them, it's it's it's so much more impactful. And it stays with them because it's their revelation. And it's always interesting for me because at the end of Call we'll talk maybe three things may have come up and I'll say, Okay, so what is really like separating with you right now of everything we've talked about over this hour or 45 minutes, or in some cases, 30 minutes, what is resonating with you? And there's always something and it's something big. And that's what we leave with. And that's what we start with the following week or two weeks later, depending on the routine, but it's so big. And it's really awesome to watch because I watch my clients evolve into how they think and approach ideas and groups and presentations and programs in their business. And I watch how they're shifting their thinking changes. It's pretty cool. I mean, I'll actually say to me, and it's so funny as a coach, I'm trying to arm my clients with the ability to self coach you know, I I love job security, but I want them to be able to do this on their own. So yes, yeah, truthfully, right. Like I love connecting with them. I never want to leave them. I love them. We get very close, but it's so fun for me when they say to me, you know, I'll get what we'll have a meeting, let's say, Sue, I was in a meeting. And as I was thinking about what was happening in the meeting, I was thinking, what would sue ask me right now? Right? And so I asked myself the question, I responded the way I would respond, and then I executed. And I love that not because it's what would sue asked me, but because it shows me that they're getting it and they're thinking and as they expand their thinking, it changes how they show up and perform, and they're getting better results. And they know and it's just awesome.
Yeah, so you've you've achieved some success as as an executive coach, and I know that there are a lot of other authors, speakers, coaches out there that would love to be at your level. What did you do to break out?
You know, I, first of all, I stayed with what I knew, and I stayed true to my goal. My place I've worked in the business world in medical devices I was in the military, I've worked with with big organizations. And what one thing that was always I was in sales and marketing. My personal strength is connecting with people face to face in life. So I did that I reached out to people that I knew I let them know what I was doing. But mostly I listened. You know, even just an hour ago, I was out at a meeting and I was I walked into a business just because it was there. I'd never been in and I asked the owner, I said, so what's your greatest challenge? I get very curious, because not because I'm looking for business. But because I really am curious to know, what is your greatest challenge? What is it that you do so well, that's that's helping you with your business. And what I find is that when you can really be curious about people about their challenges about their business goals, what they feel is holding them back. You Connect. And it's in that connection that you can see right away. You know, is there an opportunity to work together? And you know, it's interesting one of my, one of my greatest clients, I met on an airplane, and I was sitting on the airplane with her. And my plan was not to talk to the purse, sometimes you you travel a lot. You don't want to talk to anyone, even me. So I'm on the flight, and she's next to me. And it was the last 10 minutes of the flight. Something came up when we were talking and she said, By the way, what do you do? And I told her, and I asked her what she did, and she told me and I asked her, I said, What's the greatest challenge you find in the work you do? And she started to articulate something. And in that moment, I asked her two more questions. That's all I did. It wasn't giving her any advice. And at the end of we literally landed she said, Can I have your card? I said, Sure. I didn't even get her name. So like total like you never do that when you're in sales. You don't ever not get a lead. I didn't get I wasn't Sitting there, I was just curious about her. I think it was 45 days later she called me. And she said, I need you to know that the 10 minutes with you changed my trajectory. She was a partner in a significant company, changed my trajectory. So I reached out, I want to work with you. And I want to know if you'll work with me. And all I done was asked her some deep questions that caused her to think and reflect for herself.
And that was the impact. So when I think of coaches that want to do this, I think sometimes we get caught up in trying to create the perfect business. And what I'm going to challenge you to do is really think, where are you naturally strong? How did you get where you are today? or What did you do previously? Reach out to the people that you're connected with? And be curious, and just be curious without the intention that you're going to get a deal? Yes, really. Just standing and just Just trust and I have a huge faith. So I would be I wouldn't be owing, you know, my faith is so much a part of my journey. And I have incredible faith that I'm in the place that I'm supposed to be. And the rest will come if I just show up and really seek curiosity about people in their businesses and what they're trying to achieve, and what's the impact they're trying to have? And what's the business they're trying to build that the rest comes? So I do it genuinely without any expectation of a return? Because I care. I'm totally interested. And, and so my, my encouragement is, put the, put the results, what's in it for you aside and focus on what's what can I provide? And how can I really help understand in this moment, in this conversation, get really curious and have a heart for people and their businesses, and how awesome it would be Be just to hear what they're saying this this gentleman I just met literally an hour ago has a wine and cheese business. And he said to me said, Sue, my business I've been in for two years, I don't know that we can, that we're going to be able to make it. And I just talked to him. I said, you know, if you, you know, what are you thinking, like, what's your heart telling you and, and he's doing all of this one, but we had an exceptional 15 minutes. And he's got a, you know, this event this week, and I said, You know what, I think my husband, I'll be there, not because I'm looking for work, because I want to support this business. Right, not a passion for this business. And I want him to be successful. And so I believe, with fellow coaches that are trying to break into the business side of really want to thrive, connect at a high level with your ideal client, my ideal client or senior executives, because they first of all have very few people to connect with and talk to, and they are the visionaries behind their businesses and if they can find support to help them get there. My suspicion is it might lead to something You know, but you do that, that need you do it focused on them.
I truly believe, you know, this is an area where if you want to work with the higher level, you're gonna have to slow down to speed up because it's going to spend a much higher quality time. But, you know, as you start landing some of these deals, you know, you just you don't have to work so hard on the, you know, customer acquisition side, because you're natural. I mean, as long as you're good at what you do, and I know you are, you'll likely get some word of mouth business as well because, again, if I you said this earlier, you know, kind of lonely at the top. And, you know, when I have someone that's really come through for me, you know, I have those conversations with my peers and I we do a lot of referring services back and forth.
Well, I can tell you my business with the exception of meeting that woman on the plane, which is really funny. Although that resulted in not just an individual engagement with her as a senior partner, she brought me into the organization for the rest of the senior team and has referred me out because she covers she works with companies across the across the country. But what's interesting is all of my business has been CEO and senior executive referral to referral. Because my team sit on boards, and then they bring me to the to the VCs and the founders and the fiduciary responsibly responsible. So it's funny because I'll meet people to say, Well, what are you doing for marketing? And I don't like to say this because I came from a background of sales and marketing and I don't want to say none, because it's it's important, but I've been blessed with you know, if anything, I just now closed an engagement. I have room from maybe two clients, you know it depending on the scale, but it's been an honor, but you're right. I work with a few and I work very intimately and closely and it's it's teams that expand and they bring you in and you do programs and its customization, none of my programs are the same. I customize it for the client and their needs, and what systems they work with, because I want to fit into what they're already doing, and not be an added book on the shelf. And I say that respectfully, you know, but it's, but it's true. The referral basis, a high level when you do your work and people achieve results, the referrals come naturally. So I feel very blessed by that. And it's, you're right, you work efficiently at a very high level. But you don't have to it's not a ton of insanity.
You know, so you and I both served in the military about the same time you were a captain in the US Army. Yes. How was your military in this? My last question, how was your military experience? How did that help you prepare you to succeed in business?
I, first of all I am. And I say this word a lot and I apologize but I truly am honored to have served in the world. Thank you for your service. Um, it was an exceptional experience and everything about it prepared me the routine, the the, you know, inspect what you expect, you know, you you really it helped me. I already had pretty high standards. I'm not gonna lie, but the military was just so my space. The people in the military couldn't believe I got out and the people that know me now like you were in the military, it's sort of funny, but it taught me discipline. It taught me responsibility and accountability and the Code of Conduct sort of honor. You know, I take my work very seriously. I have a ton of pride in what I do, and in the military is, I felt that same way in the military. I felt honored to be in the role. I was I was a leader and I was an officer. So by rank, you know, you sort of gained you, you always have to earn respect, but by nature of a rank in the military people sort of had to listen to you but I learned into that, that I didn't want them to listen to me because they had to listen to me. I wanted them to respect the bars on my shoulders. So you you never I learned that you would never ask anyone to do anything that you wouldn't do. And what's interesting is as as you grow in your career, and you get higher in the food chain, so to speak, you can't know everything. And the biggest transition for me was getting used to the fact that I wouldn't necessarily know all the things I asked people to do. But I've always been a person that would roll up her sleeves I would and sit with my people and learn or at least cetyl sit alongside them to show them the respect because I respect what they do. And the military taught me that you know, I ran a motor I'm random maintenance facility with 42 vehicles. And I admit I didn't know how to repair vehicles, but I would be there with my with my enlisted, an NCO is under the truck and say, Show me what you're working on. And I learned how much they appreciated that and I'm I appreciated that they took time to teach me. And they would say to me, look, lt, it's easy, you can do this. And they, you know, we just gained built a relationship because I cared about what they did. And I cared about learning what they did and what was important to them. And that is no different. I took that, that, that lesson that I learned and saw how important it was to them. And I fortunately, you know, then went on to work for Johnson and Johnson had great training and leadership and have carried it through all of my all through my career path, you know, and it's in it's really a foundation of my business now. Is, is what I do so that military experience though, it just was, it was great. And I feel so I feel so fortunate to have had that as part of my career. And and part of my foundation,
you other things that you learn, at least in my experience, and again, I wasn't necessarily out on the field and you know, login You know, firing a rifle, you know, shooting down bad guys or anything like that, you know, I was I was out kind of telling the story, but still there's an environment of course, you know, going through school going through boot camp, being in that environment, you know that that style of leadership can be kind of tough, you know if, but, but I learned a level of grit, that I just think it's really hard to pick that up anywhere else and the fact that I was in that environment for five years, I it really, really gave me the tenacity, just speaking for myself to be able to persevere, and you know, I'd fail in business. I get up and I do it again. You know, it's like Captain America, right that I do this all day. But that's kind of the attitude that I'll tell you that if it was, you know, straight out of high school into college. I'm not sure I would have picked that up. Naturally, and so I just again, I applaud you for your service and and, and again so it's it's been a real pleasure to have you on as well. So now again, you're on the web at focal point inc.com. And point has an E, it's a correct European player of some sort.
Truth is when I was incorporating Yeah.
I, you know, hey, we're all among friends. I have a I think it was the domain, I could get the.com I'm really good at grabbing domains when I have an idea. And I grabbed focal point and I knew the name of the company, but yup, but then incorporating, you know, would you believe there was a focal point Furniture Company anyway, but we've got Focal Pointe, with an E, Inc.
Yeah. And I like it. It's brilliant for me. Well, Sue, you are the Founder and President of Focal Pointe. I want to thank you so much for your time today. Thank
you so much. Just take care.
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