Tag Archives: LiveIntent

My $.02 | Why I am Joining Help Scout

Apologies. I’m out of practice on the blog front, and I’m writing this stream of conscious style because…I start a new job tomorrow. But I digress. Let’s start with a story?

I’ve been married for 5.5 years now. It’s a long time for some. It’s just scratching the surface for others. For me, it’s the only marriage I’ve known personally. So it’s both the longest and shortest one I’ve been a part of. Funny way of thinking about it.

Periodically, people with poor judgement will ask me the secret to a happy marriage. There’s no secret. One of my favorite pieces of advice is actually to know it’s ok to go to bed angry! Better than saying something stupid. But what I think makes for a successful marriage is how you solve problems. I get along with the entire world when we agree on things. But when the “fit hits the shan”, how do we solve problems together?

In that regard, my wife and I are like lego pieces. She is…a royal pain the *ss when it comes to the smallest decision. Trying to figure out what we’re having for dinner tonight, the night I write this, has been a 3hr 20minute discussion — and we still have no dinner options.

But when it comes to something big? Material? Something that matters? I’m the 2×4 plate to her 2×4 brick (because let’s be serious, she’s the substance of this relationship.) Buying a house. Leasing a car. Moving to North Carolina, and back again. And leaving LiveIntent because something didn’t feel right? Those were conversations that took seconds. A look in the eye. A gut check on the “why” I was making this decision. And then nothing but full, unwavering support for my decision. Even with a second kid on the way, all I got from Priya was “We’ll be fine. Find your happy.”

I don’t want to spend a second on why I left LiveIntent. Matt Keiser was the best person I have ever worked for. The Marketing Team was the best Marketing Team I’ve ever worked with. The people across the company were the best people I’ve ever worked with. It’s been a month and I miss them like hell. But it was the right move.

Early in my career I made decisions based on bosses as mentors. Which is why I have had the benefit of having some absolutely amazing ones. Maria Valez and Mark Macaravage at Prudential. Mary O’Malley at Prudential. Jim Burke at Prudential, DnB, and Global Compliance. Robert Schwartz and Prudential Securities. Kristine Tanno at Prudential Securities. Jordan McConnell at DnB. Steve Hagerty at Hagerty Consulting. Tony Haile at Chartbeat. And Matt Keiser at LiveIntent. I’d say that 9 out of 10 would speak positively of me. And I believe I could still call on 8 our of 10 for a reference today. But I digress. My point is that I picked jobs based on bosses as mentors. But at a certain point, it becomes less about bosses as mentors and more about bosses as collaborators. As peers. As people with shared approaches to decision-making.

I’ve had enough experience in my life to have strong opinions (weakly held, as I steal a line from my new boss, perhaps the line that closed me during the interview process). I’m looking less for mentors and more for people who want to make decisions with me. And who want to make those decisions based on a value system that matches mine.

I found those values and that partner in Nick Francis at Help Scout.

Before I joined LiveIntent, I reached back out to my former bosses and peers and asked their advice. What could I do better. What could I evolve. And they brought the thunder. I internalized all of the feedback I received and approached LiveIntent committed to being hard on myself and committing myself to evolving and changing. I leave LiveIntent confident that I’ve done that. The validation for me is a combination of what the company accomplished while I was there, and the relationships I’ve made and sustained with people since I’ve left.

As I enter Help Scout, it’s almost the opposite. It’s no longer about what I need to change. Because I realize now that there will always be an infinite number of things I can change, do better, improve, etc. I enter Help Scout with clarity about the things I value. The things I don’t want to change. The things I will never change.

  • Man in the Mirror. It might be hokey, but I’m fine with it. And it’s a great f*cking song. But problem solving at every level, especially at the Executive Level has to start with the Man in the Mirror. There’s an honesty and a humility that is necessary to be a leader these days. It is anchored in an honest assessment first and foremost of the role you played as a leader in putting those dependent on you in a position to succeed or fail.
  • Start with why. Every decision that was ever made was somebody making a deliberate choice for an explicit reason. I believe it is imperative to start every discussion by trying to understand why decisions were made. It saves time. It build empathy. And it makes everyone in the room smarter. If you start at the decision and the outcomes first, you set a bad habit.
  • Focus on process over outcomes. I don’t want to get to MoneyBall here, but there’s value in focusing on doing the right things. There will always be one-offs and aberrations but I can’t control for those. I can only make sure we did all the right things along the way. I’m committed to efforts and believe if you play the right game, the long game, the results will follow (and be sustainable and repeatable.)
  • Take care of your people. We’ve gotten too excited about the new. Whether its employees or customers. We’re an acquisition economy and a disposable society. Those are terrible practices. For me, there’s value in loyalty. Talk to your longest standing employees. Value your longest standing customers. Focus on what you have and meet their needs. It will take you to amazing places.

There are so many more values. There are so many more things to cover. But the above four bullets encapsulate so much of my decision. Except one.

I was introduced to Help Scout through people who knew me very well. What I value. How I work. How I treat people. And they insisted that I take the conversation with Nick and Help Scout. I was sold immediately.

Nick was focused on the customer first. Help Scout has gotten this far by focusing on being humble and being helpful. I couldn’t think of two greater values to build a brand around. And when push comes to shove, I love that I will be able to make decisions based on whether or not what we’re about to do will be helpful for the customer, and done with humility. Those are aspirational values for me. I love that I’ll get practice at them professionally, every single day I go to work.

Legos. A perfect set of legos.

Tomorrow is July 1st. I couldn’t be more excited to join this new team. I feel like a high school line worker at Taco Bell joining Top Chef (I can say that because I was actually a high school line worker at Taco Bell.) All Stars all around me. As a result, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities in front of us. And, perhaps most of all, I couldn’t be more excited to be myself and be confident in my ability to help all the amazing people who have brought Help Scout to this point, take it even farther.

Thank you, LiveIntent. For everything. Hello, Help Scout. Let’s do this.

 

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My $.02 | Work | Revisiting the Past

Resumes are interesting things. I guess LinkedIn profiles even moreso. They highlight accomplishments. We’re all taught to write our bullet points and summaries in standard formats (like STAR – Situation, Tasks, Actions, Results.) I am not crying against convention here as there is substantive, material value in highlighting what you’ve done well and achieved.

But where is the standard for self-reflection? Where is the format for all of us to reflect upon our mistakes? To look at where we made mistakes? Where we could have done better? How can we get better at seeking disconfirming evidence and critical feedback, as opposed to succumbing to our narratives and stories of success?

Before taking on a new role I do my best to reach back out to individuals I’ve worked with in the past to ask for their feedback and guidance. I share my request broadly, and I ask for feedback candidly. And I’m always amazed at the responses and interest individuals take in responding and sharing their thoughts. Often I learn as much from the time they take as the words they actually share. In advance of starting my new job at LiveIntent, I was able to connect with a few individuals for this reason:

  • Former peer and head of corporate development
  • Former boss and CMO
  • Former boss and CEO
  • Former peer and President
  • Former boss turned client
  • Former COO
  • Former mentor

That makes for seven conversations with people who have worked with me at an executive capacity and were willing to take the time to sit down with me or hop on the phone and share their advice generally, and then directed specifically at the areas and opportunities I have for improvement. I can’t thank them enough. Here’s what I heard, loudly and clearly.

  • Listen more than you talk. I heard this several times and by digging deeper into it I discovered that the problem is very obviously twofold: 1) I need to get better at active listening, and 2) I need to do a better job of making it clear that I have heard what’s been shared with me. I have a host of excuses and perspectives that I feel compelled to share here, but it doesn’t change the fact that one of the most universal pieces of advice I heard was that I could improve “how” I listened.
  • Enough with the albatrosses. I take my work very seriously, and because of that, I carry my mistakes and the company’s mistakes with me, heavily. Though I do a good job of masking these (mostly) with my team I have been told that I can do a better job of handling these with respect to my peers and my bosses (notably the CEO.) I can’t thank a former CEO enough for this advice. It resonated loudly and actually set me free from some things that have stayed with me from past roles.
  • Think a level down AND a level up. A very strong pattern in my feedback sessions focused on how often I sided with my team. It was perhaps the most challenging piece of feedback to hear. I view a core tenet of my job to be supporting for, advocating for, and developing my team. But I need to continue to do a better job of finding balance between my team and the expectations of my role. One of the best pieces of advice I was given here was to think of my role as much from a level up as I practice doing from a level down. In the case of my role at LiveIntent, it’s as much about thinking about my job from the POV of our President and our CEO as it is about thinking of my role from the POV of my team.
  • Overcommunicate, and overcommunicate about overcommunicating. I tend to communicate to the level I believe I’m being heard. I’ve tried overcompensating on either side, by either assuming everything is being read or assuming nothing is (culture has dictated both.) But what I have to make sure I do is highlight the reason I’m communicating as much as I am and then validate that the audience finds it to be appropriate. And when in doubt. err on the side of more information and context while providing the recipient an easy out in the form of “here’s why I’m sharing, tell me if it’s too much or too little, and until you do, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”
  • Don’t stop having fun. When you feel it happening, find a way to reverse it. Walk around the block. Step back and take a day off. Tell your boss the way you’re feeling and why. But find a way to transparently share what’s happening and invite people in to help you get out of your rut. Because when you stop having fun, everyone around you knows it. And when everyone around you knows it, the slippery slope to negative momentum steepens and gets that much more slick.
  • Remember why you were hired. And if you’re not sure, ask the question up front. With every new role comes a new layer of accountability and ownership. Don’t outsource your brain, don’t compromise on your values, don’t confuse collaboration and input with democracy, don’t stop moving forward and don’t stop doing these kinds of things — asking questions to find out where you can improve. It’s all of these things that made you the ideal candidate for the role you’re stepping into (assuming you were honest throughout the interview process.) So when the chips are down, reflect back on why you were hired. And put all of those reasons back on display.

I can’t thank the folks who took some time to mold me, in the past, over time, and just these past few weeks. I am whatever and whoever I am today because of your influence. Hopefully, it’s something you take a little pride in.

LiveIntent, here I come. Better for the wear. Better for all the care.

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My $.02 | Work | Guiding Principles

Tomorrow, 5/7, I take another step forward in my career when I join LiveIntent as CMO. It’s humbling. It’s an honor. Like any big move I’m motivated and excited about the challenge. And like any normal human being, I’m acutely aware that I have as much power to make things go well as I do to muck things up.

As I enter my new role, excited to work with this amazing group of people who found some value in my experiences and my person enough to invite me to join them, I took some time to reflect on some of my guiding principles. An exercise that served me well in my decision to leave my last role in search of a new one, and a decision that made it right to choose LiveIntent among my several competitive (and equally humbling) offers.

  • Progress to perfection must be a permanent exercise and should be a fruitless one. The world changes too much, and these days, also too quickly. If you’ve set yourself on the correct path, the final goal post should move farther out every time you look up to see how close you’ve gotten. When I look at what makes me happy, it’s clear that I find the permanence and pursuit of greater goals to be more motivating than I find the fruitless nature of them to be demotivating. Per James Thurber, I prefer to be the moth in pursuit of the star as opposed to the siblings in pursuit of a street lamp.
  • Maintain perspective and context by balancing confidence with humility. There are no stupid clients and there are no arrogant teams. There is merely a commitment to a lack of context and introspection. In any situation it is important that you understand the role you play in the lives of the people you serve — whether it be your employees, your clients, your investors professionally, your family and friends personally, or the world and the environment around you as a citizen. Maintain context. Because inflating your own value in your own eyes will make you miss the bigger picture and the opportunities around you, while also making you come across as foolish when all is said and done.
  • Be just as willing to act as you are to espouse. People are increasingly given platforms to share their thoughts. I believe this opportunity (from social media to document sharing to ill-timed meetings) has created a culture of conversation but not of action. As I look back at the people who have helped me and the people who I have enjoyed working with the most, it is not those who tell the greatest stories (stories can always change, stories can always extend — Hollywood has proven that with the sequel.) I find myself gravitating most toward those who work and deliver, and have committed myself to always being the one to bell-the-cat.
  • If you’re given the option, choose being clear over being clever. There’s no fable here. These are the words of my Jivan Mama, one of the strongest mentors in my life. When I was young and we were at dinner together, I used to just listen to him talk about how he approached his life and his work. One of the best pieces of advice I received from him was his desire to always be perceived as clear. I don’t think I do this nearly well enough, but boy do I want to. The moral of the story here is about where you focus. If you focus on being clever, you’re playing a game. Your energy, and the energy of everyone around you, is then focused on the playing the game as well. But by being clear, and by eliminating noise, you shift your focus from day-to-day gamesmanship and instead, focus on the outcomes. When you’re clear, nobody has to worry about what you’re thinking, what your priorities are, or how things will be received — everyone can instead focus on the task itself and the desired outcome.

There is no shortage of morals or lessons learned to pull from as I start my new role at LiveIntent. I’ll be posting one more on lessons learned from the past. But on this Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours before I start, these four bullets are the ones I find myself settling on with the greatest conviction. Looking forward to starting my new job, and to continuing to get better.

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