Natalie is an award-winning executive who innovates and advocates for women in business. She is also a single mother to a 6-year old daughter and is passionate about not only thriving personally through a global pandemic and home-schooling but also about making balance possible for the working parents at her company. As the CEO of AnswerConnect, a global company that helps small and mid-sized businesses around the world. Her team works from their home offices around the world to support clients 24/7/365.

Natalie Ruiz

What's your favourite B2B sales/marketing book/article? What was a major takeaway you adopted from it?

There are so many great reads in this category, but I am going to recommend that everyone read Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen By Donald Miller. Understanding how to frame what you do and, more importantly, why you do it, in a compelling story is a game-changer. Bonus points for casting your customer as the hero of the story.

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months?

I recently invested in an iFit Membership to accompany my runs and walks on the treadmill, and it has significantly improved my commitment to working out at home. Because of Covid and Comprehensive Distance learning, going to the gym or even going for a solo jog in the neighborhood have not been possible. iFit makes running in my garage much more enjoyable.

How would you handle an inbound call from an upset customer or target contact?

With the utmost care! We take customer feedback very seriously, and if we have an opportunity to hear about a concern and solve the problem, we are going to do all we can to find a solution.

What's an interesting example of a lead generation approach you've admired or seen?

Navigating the running and growing of a business during a pandemic has provided countless opportunities to think differently. When it comes to generating leads, I have been really impressed with the pivots made to bring what would traditionally be in-person events to everyone’s home-office virtually. It isn’t easy to replicate the connections, the energy, or the engagement of an in-person event in a virtual environment. The organizations and presenters who have done it well have been able to expand their audiences, grow their reach, and level-up during a really challenging time.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Hands down, the best habit I have adopted is a commitment to daily learning. This behavior leads me to be able to read 50-60 books a year, complete online courses, and watch some of the best TED Talks. It’s definitely something I plan to continue for the rest of my life. Because of this practice, I’m a better human, leader, mother, friend, and partner. I will also say that in order to stay true to this commitment, I know there has to be a fundamental understanding that I do not know it all. This keeps me humble and it keeps me hungry.

What's the worst cold email you've received?

More than once, I’ve received a cold email disguised as an actual client seeking needs help. This is infuriating! Not only is it dishonest, but I also have to question the play the salesperson thinks they’re making because once I discovered that they were not actually one of my clients who needed help, I was completely uninterested in hearing their pitch. Don’t do that!

How about the best cold email?

I love emails that break the script or use some humor. I have a background in sales, so I understand prospecting, and if you can make me smile or make me laugh, I’ll keep reading. Humor is hard, so if you can’t do it right, don’t! I also appreciate clear, straightforward cold emails that tell me what I need to know to determine if there’s a fit.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

Several years ago, while at a trade show, I was unexpectedly asked to present on stage in front of all of the attendees. It was a great opportunity, but I was not prepared. I also hated public speaking. To make matters worse, there was another presenter who was rude to me backstage. The whole moment rattled me, and when it was my turn to speak about my company – which should have been an easy win because of my knowledge and passion – I fumbled. It was a failure. The positive side of this came about because I decided that I never wanted to feel like that or fail like that again. I began taking on more speaking engagements and no longer hate it! I know that when an impromptu opportunity comes up next time, I will be ready!

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

I will say that investing in myself has been one of the best investments I have ever made. The returns are big! Beyond myself, investing in others really fills my cup. Playing a part in helping people around me grow, overcome challenges, and ascend in their careers lights me up. I am able to roll the ROI gained by prioritizing my learning, health, and growth into helping others.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

There’s a lot of pressure on young people to choose a path and stick to it, however my experience is that the road of life is filled with twists and turns, and we often do not end up exactly where we planned – we end up someplace better. Dream big, don’t settle and enjoy the moments. My advice on what to ignore comes from the author Chip Heath, “Beware the soul-sucking force of reasonableness.”

What is the most significant thing that someone much younger than yourself has taught you?

I have two.

1. Becoming a mom to a precocious little girl has taught me more than I can detail here. One of the most important things I have learned is that more than my words, my actions will speak for me. I don’t want my daughter to be filled with self-doubt, to shrink when she could stand tall, or to allow Impostor Syndrome to keep her from achieving her goals. This means that I have to show up boldly with confidence and be willing to step outside of my comfort zone so that she can learn from my example.

2. Professionally, I am grateful to work with people from multiple generations. I know there are so many lessons to learn from people who are different from me. Some of my younger team members have been instrumental in pushing me to utilize social media, in helping shape recruiting strategies that really work, and in infusing some fun into our operations.

Whose the best outbound guy/girl you've ever come across? What was special about them.

I’m going to give a shoutout to Karen Booze, who leads AnswerConnect Franchise Sales. She is phenomenal because she’s fearless, she’s engaging, and she truly cares about the people she works with and seeks to help.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I would be an author. I’ve always believed that each of us has at least one amazing story inside of us, and I think in my case, there could be several.

Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire them?

When I was promoted to CEO at my company in 2015, I looked for examples of great leaders to guide me in my new position. I found Indra Nooyi, who was the CEO and Chairperson of PepsiCo for many years. I admire her because she was excellent at what she did, was a remarkable leader who notably wrote letters to the parents of her employees expressing her gratitude, and made bold choices that changed many things at her company. I also admire her because her trajectory to CEO and Chairperson was not the ‘typical’ story. I love examples of success that highlight grit, tenacity, and shattered glass ceilings.

What is a 'hack' you have for success that most people don't know about?

In life, there are rarely any real shortcuts. However, I do think that striving for your own definition of success is key to staying motivated and doing your best work. Dr. Maya Angelou said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Whatever you do, stay true to yourself, and you’ll be okay.

What is the most surprising thing you've seen in your industry?

It’s been shocking to see how many companies have tried to replace real, human interaction with bots. It’s a big mistake in my opinion. The foundation of what we do at AnswerConnect is rooted in providing real connections. While we love technology and rely on it heavily, we do not believe that bots and technology can replace the human touch that real people provide.

How has Covid-19 changed your company?

We have been a remote-first company since 2007, and Covid-19 has pushed us to help more clients make the switch from being tied to an office to working from anywhere. We’ve gotten more of our software to market, continued refining our tools, and made ourselves available to share what we’ve learned in over a decade of growing our business while distributed.

What's your favourite colour?

I’m a big fan of fuchsia.

What's your favourite holiday destination?

Anywhere my people are. 2020, with all of its hardship and disruption, also put into focus how much I love and appreciate my family and friends. I’m looking forward to being able to connect with them in 3D again soon.

What popular celebrity do you admire the most and why?

Let’s give it up for Oprah! I remember watching her daytime talk show as a kid, and seeing her growth and evolution over the years into such a positive force through her messaging and philanthropy is truly inspiring.

What one thing in life do you consider to be overrated?

Other people’s opinions of me.

What's something exciting you're currently working on/learning that only a few people know about?

I am so excited for our expansion to Canada! The ability to bring our products and services to a new country is a big opportunity. It is also exciting to continue exploring how our remote-first model evolves as we grow. We are still in the early stages of our endeavor, and I am confident that it’s going to be a win for our clients and for our teams.

What are you NOT Very Good at?

I am terrible at creating spreadsheets with formulas, pivot tables, and other magic in Excel. I can read them, I can use them – and my eternal gratitude is extended to all who can make them work – I just never dug into learning how to do them well, and it shows.

What's your star sign?

I am SUCH a Pisces.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Coffee! I am not usually hungry in the morning but love a big lunch.

About The Author


Deepak Shukla

SEO Nerd that loves nothing more than marathon running, hanging out with his cat Jenny and sometimes getting tatts. TedX Speaker, entrepreneur and founder of the Pearl Lemon Media Group.