A conversation between two sales guys about impact.

A conversation between two sales guys about impact.

Anne Dean (AD) met with Tim (TH) and Will (WC) to get some perspective on the term impact. They talked about how the modifier might not exist one day, the realities of greenwashing, and how that first conversation with a potential client can make the biggest impact. But it all depends on the pump-up jam you listen to before that call. 

Left: portrait of Tim Harris, Director of New Business for Bullhorn Right: portrait of Will Coffman, Partner
Left: Tim Harris, Director of New Business for  Bullhorn Right: Will Coffman, Partner

AD: We’re going to ease into this topic today. 

TH: I’m ready for anything. 

AD: Okay. Would you rather be the best in the world at a super obscure sport or just pretty good at a very popular sport?

TH: I am going to go with pretty good at a very popular sport. I like being average. There’s probably more money in it. I could be an average professional baseball player nobody knew about and still feed my family. 

WC: Wait, Tim, you went from being pretty good to being a professional. 

TH: Isn’t that the same thing? 

AD: Definitely not. 

TH: I’m sticking with my answer. 

AD: What about you, Will? 

WC: I don't want to be the best in the world at anything. But I would love to be pretty good at basketball. 

AD: Tim, what was your very first job?

TH: My first job getting paid by someone, not in my family? 

AD: Yeah, sure. 

TH: Well, I was a pedicab driver. I sold supplements. I made pizzas. And I was a caddy. 

AD: All at the same time? Tim’s traveling, one-man emporium. 

TH: I wish. 

WC:  You got started in sales early, Tim. I think the first thing I ever got paid for was babysitting. 

AD: But didn’t you have a lawn care business?

WC: Well, I mowed lawns for free first. I had to start my business to get paid for mowing lawns. Oh, and I had a DJ business. 

AD: I’m certain you brought the mood at all the basement middle school parties. 

WC: Well, you were probably there, so you tell me.

Editor’s note: AD and WC went to school together from fourth to eighth grade. They have a lot of perspectives on one another. 

AD: Okay, speaking of music, what's your favorite pump-up jam? You have a big meeting, and you need to get psyched for it. What do you listen to? 

TH: In full disclosure, my jam is more of a groove. The Boss by James Brown. It gets me in boss mode. 

AD: Good enough for me. Coffman?

WC: It depends on the purpose of the meeting. My default is hop hop. Kendrick Lamar. But I first thought of Up On Cripple Creek, specifically the opening groove. It gets me going every time. 

TH: It’s your walk-up song. 

WC: Totally. 

AD: Okay, we're switching gears here. It’s time to talk about something meaningful. 

TH: James Brown and mowing lawns feel pretty heartfelt to me. 

AD: I know. But we have work to do. What does impact mean to you?

TH: Wow. Straight to the heart. 

AD: It’s time to get serious. 

TH: It’s subjective. The word impact runs the risk of meaning nothing to everyone instead of something to someone. But for me, I think it’s simply asking if what you are doing is additive or extractive to your life, to your community, or to your business. How are you adding value in the world outside the bottom-line value? Are you improving the lives of your clients, employees, community, and environment? 

AD: That sounds like B Corporations. 

TH: It could be, yes. But it’s not always about a B Corp score. Some businesses might not even know what impact means but have made more impact than larger, award-winning impact companies. 

I think the modifier exists for businesses because it needs to exist. In a perfect world, impact means nothing because every business and person is thinking about the environment, adding value, and just doing good overall. But we’re not there yet. Hopefully, in the future, the word impact won’t have to be front and center. People will be able to see how you are running your company. And it will be good. 

AD: Good sermon. I like the optimism. 

WC: Everything Tim said is true. I like to break it down to an even simpler definition, though. Impact is how your actions affect those around you. 

AD: Back to the basics. Coffman has spoken. 

WC: If people, corporations, businesses, and partners think about how their actions impact those around them, they are making an impact. They are putting something good first. 

AD: Is there an area of impact that you are more drawn to? Something you would like to be a bigger part of?

TH: I am passionate about the health of families and communities within the economy. I like how these things work together for good. How can we make an economy that works better for the whole community? And that will positively impact families. Working together strengthens these systems. 

More specifically, I think about rural communities. I am the first generation in my family not born on a farm. 

AD: You are the urban branch. 

TH: Yeah, and there’s such a divide between rural and urban communities, not just politically but economically. I don’t want the rural communities to get left behind or not feel part of the impact world. 

WC: I’m passionate about helping the people who need it. Impact is how your actions affect those around you. I want to do good work for good people. And that’s really what Bullhorn has always been about. 

AD: I agree. And I think we try to be careful with the impact term, so we aren’t greenwashing. The impact term can make it hard to get at the heart of what we do. 

TH: I think consumers and clients know who is authentic and who is not. We are transparent about how we run our company and the clients we partner with. We definitely work to be mindful of the greenwashing trend. 

WC: We have become a company that considers impact as a way to screen clients. But really, we are still the company that wants to do good work for good people. 

TH: Exactly. That’s why I came to Bullhorn. 

AD: Me too. Who would you love to see us work with? What do we need to be doing more of?

WC: I sound like a broken record. But we need to give more work to people who can’t afford it. Those are the people who need it most. I have a lot of conversations with people who don’t end up working with us. And we make an impact even then. 

AD: And that’s where the walk-up song comes in. Before those conversations. 

WC: Exactly.

Tim Harris
Tim Harris
New Business

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