Leading with Resilience and Adaptability | Shirin Oshidari

by | Dec 21, 2023 | Path to Growth

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Tracy Young speaks with Shirin Oshidari, an experienced sales leader with a background in companies like OpenSpace, Streetlight Data, and Autodesk. Shirin shares her unique life journey, starting with her upbringing in Tehran, Iran, during the revolution, which led her to move to the U.S. as a teenager. She talks about growing up mostly alone, as her siblings were abroad and she was much younger than them, which cultivated her independence and resilience.

Shirin attributes her character and approach to life significantly to her father, describing him as a no-nonsense, positive person. She discusses how the challenges of losing everything at a young age and being refugees shaped her outlook on life, teaching her to make the best out of difficult situations and to focus on education and moving forward.

Interview Highlights

Tracy Young: Hello and welcome to Path to Growth Conversations with Leaders on Go to Market. I’m your host, Tracy Young, co-founder and CEO of TigerEye. Today, we are joined by Shirin Oshidari, an experienced sales leader who has led revenue at OpenSpace, Streetlight Data, and Autodesk. Shirin, welcome. I’m happy to have you here.

Shirin Oshidari: Hi, Tracy. Happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Tracy Young: Tell me about growing up. About your mom and dad and what you learned from them.

Shirin Oshidari: I grew up in Tehran, Iran. Around 14, the revolution started, and my parents sent me abroad to the U.S. I’m the youngest of four, an ‘oops baby,’ seven years younger than the last one. So, I grew up mostly by myself. A lot of who I am is due to that independence. My parents weren’t around much, so I learned to do things on my own.

Tracy Young: You were independent to survive as a young child. That’s really made you who you are today. Tell me about one person who helped you become the person you are today.

Shirin Oshidari: My dad. I am very much like him – no nonsense, very positive. My independence and moving forward came from his nature.

Tracy Young: That’s incredible. Tell me about your journey into enterprise sales.

Shirin Oshidari: It was total fluke. I finished computer science, looking for a programming job, and met a family friend who was starting a company. He needed help selling Primavera software and AutoCAD. I started with cold calling and loved it. I learned a lot about sales through this experience.

I finished computer science, looking for a programming job, and met a family friend who was starting a company. He needed help selling Primavera software and AutoCAD. I started with cold calling and loved it. I learned a lot about sales through this experience.

Tracy Young: And from there, your trajectory kept going. You’ve spent a lot of time in construction.

Shirin Oshidari: Yes, it was luck. Primavera was the first product I sold, mainly for construction. I love construction people – no nonsense, straightforward. I love real estate and building things.

Tracy Young: As a sales leader, what takes up too much of your time?

Shirin Oshidari: As a sales leader, you have your sales team, customers, and the rest of the company like product, marketing, engineering, operations. It’s about nurturing all these relationships.

Tracy Young: Culture is everything. What behaviors do you encourage and minimize?

Shirin Oshidari: I view the sales team as a sports team, not individuals. They should work and support each other. It’s important to build relationships with other execs too. We need a product that functions for the customer and marketing that generates leads. It takes the whole village.

Tracy Young: What about the relationship between the head of sales and the CEO?

Shirin Oshidari: Trust, honesty, and having each other’s back are crucial. It’s about being honest with your CEO or CRO and supporting each other.

Tracy Young: How do you build trust with other groups in the company?

Shirin Oshidari: It’s hard because everyone has their agenda. It starts with the CEO ensuring we all have the same goal. I believe in treating everyone in the company like they are my customers.

Tracy Young: How has the sales profession changed over your career?

Shirin Oshidari: The CRM and tools have improved significantly. What hasn’t changed is the need to build trust and relationships with customers. People still buy from people.

Tracy Young: What advice would you give to young people coming into sales?

Shirin Oshidari: Be true to yourself, enjoy what you do, be a learner, and don’t be discouraged by rejections. Build thick skin, surround yourself with knowledgeable people, and keep learning.

Tracy Young: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

Shirin Oshidari: I wonder if I should have explored roles outside of sales for broader insights. But I always loved sales, so I stuck with it.

Tracy Young: How do you deal with crises?

Shirin Oshidari: Have perspective. If you’re healthy and waking up every morning, the rest is just little things. Don’t take things personally, learn from them, and move on.

Tracy Young: Who’s the best leader you’ve worked for?

Shirin Oshidari: I learned from every leader. Each had great traits and lessons, both what to do and what not to do.

Tracy Young: Shirin, thank you for a great conversation. It was entertaining and incredibly helpful.

Shirin Oshidari: Thank you, Tracy. Love talking to you. We could go on forever.

Tracy Young: We should do this over wine tasting sometime.

Shirin Oshidari: Thank you for inviting me. I follow your work closely. Talk to you soon.

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