A friend recently recommended that I listen to Dave Cancel’s new podcast, Seeking Wisdom. I listened to an episode, “Why Millennials Need to Carry The Water,” which my friend has since made required listening for new sales reps on his team.
Then I saw another episode that sounded good... and then another. Before I knew it, I felt like I was looking forward to the time during my commute to hear from Dave, because as he points out, he’s not selling anything in his podcast. He’s just telling it like it is.
As a first-time VP of Marketing at a fast-growing startup, it’s incredibly useful to hear both tactical advice and sage, mentorship advice. Here are couple of tactical tibdits from Seeking Wisdom that have changed the way that we’re doing things at Seismic:
WE’RE ELIMINATING MANY OF OUR LEAD FORMS
This idea seemed ludicrous, even blasphemous, 12 months ago. We’re inbound marketing machines over here that are practically covered in HubSpot tattoos… and then the (former) product guy at Hubspot tells us to ditch forms? But Dave (and his trusty podcast sidekick and head of marketing at Drift, also named Dave) convinced me that it’s worth it.
We’ve already been moving away from reporting on MQLs to the metric that sales cares about—enterprise accepted opps—so why put friction on the process prior to the enterprise accepted opportunity (EOA) anyway?
WE'RE TRYING NEW INTERVIEW TACTICS
An episode about “hiring for purpose” has a great piece of advice: Find a couple of things that the interviewee is passionate about in their personal life. Then, while they're talking, use their facial expression reaction as the baseline to say, “That’s what this person is like when they are talking about something they are passionate about.” If you then start discussing the specifics of the role and they don’t light up in the same way, they aren’t a good hire for that role.
That’s frickin’ brilliant and I’m doing it in my next interview.
WE'RE STICKING TO 1 GOAL
Much of my role is to provide direction to the marketing team, and Dave had a radically simple approach to communicating that direction: stick to one goal metric. Previously, I had the team chasing down dozens of metrics and presenting a 70 slide monthly presentation of progress… and nobody in the rest of the organization probably cared.
Instead, we’re now having the lead gen marketers focused on EAOs and the product marketers focused on demo to close percentage. The clarity to the focus of the team has been helpful, and I think will shift time from activities that might be superfluous over time to more value-add functions as people stop and think, “Is this the best way I can be helping to create EAOs?”
MY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE ULTIMATE STARTUP COACH
On the more overarching, mentorship-style advice, Dave’s no-BS approach to his successes feels like you’re hearing from a startup coach. A few of my big takeaways:
It takes 10 years to get really good at management/startup success, so commit to the time and focus on learning rather than paychecks. It’s the opposite of the way you hear people talk about Silicon Valley’s rush to find the next Facebook or Pinterest or Snapchat to get equity and get rich quick. It’s a fool’s errand and isn’t how you learn how to lead a team. Plus, by focusing on the future it’s hard to be happy in the present. To do that, you have to just do it for a while. And want to be really good at it by trying hard to get better.
To get better, it helps to learn from some of those that were great at it. Dave’s podcast is full of great book recommendations. Peter Drucker’s Managing Oneself is somewhat life changing, and at a 20-minute read is probably the greatest bang for the buck time-wise of anything. I also love Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Talk about struggling to get a company off the ground! That guy was committed.
- I’m on the old side of being a Millennial at 33, and the advice to do the work that makes your boss look good is something I feel passionately about. So many people want to be successful, but don’t want to put in the time, effort, and work that success requires, and Cancel tells it like it is. It’s a piece of advice that I heard early on from Doug Winter, my boss (and CEO of Seismic): Make your boss look good and make their life a little easier along the way.
I can’t recommend this podcast enough—and yes Dave, if you’re reading this I promise to give you five stars.