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Joseph Fung is the CEO of Uvaro, a tech sales career accelerator. A graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Computer Engineering program, Joseph’s a five-time technology Founder & CEO, and with multiple successful exits, and speaks frequently on the topics of sales leadership, diversity, and corporate social responsibility.
We discuss so many important topics around enabling people, empowering individuals and teams, using systems to map our experiences and get to progress faster. Joseph has an incredible story and I highly recommend you have a look at what he and the team at Uvaro are doing.
One of the amazing things that I love about this podcast is that I meet incredible people who genuinely have an impact on how I think and do things. You’re going to get the advantage of doing that today with Joseph Fung. Joseph Fung is both a serial entrepreneur as well as the founder of Movado. So he’s really, really neat Canadian as well. Which kind of a bonus. But before we get into there, let me just jump in and give a shout out and a thanks to the amazing folks that sponsor and make this podcast happen.
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And that is Devil’s Breath, one of the best shirts. Plus also proceeds go to support independent artists. That’s the way we roll. We want to support new creators. And one more thing before we get to the good stuff. Make sure if you want to get better connected with your customers, clients, peers, anybody in the tech industry, if you technical sales, product marketing, just about anything. I’ve created a guide called the Four Step Guide delivering extraordinary software demos.
Super cool. I’m very proud of it. I’ve had great feedback. So thank you to all the folks who have already downloaded. There’s much more to the program. So go to VelocityClosing.com You can actually check it out right there and there’s more coming anyways. Let’s get to the Good Stuff. This is Joseph Fung. Joseph Fung is somebody who I really, really enjoy spending time with. You are going to as well. He’s the CEO of Uvaro.
He he’s cool. We talk about selling. We talk about connecting. We talk about startup entrepreneurship, running teams, culture. Amazing. Enjoy.
This is Joseph Fung with Uvaro, and you’re listening to the DiscoPosse podcast.
thank you very much, Joseph, for joining. This is really neat because I love when I get to meet folks, when I look at what you’re doing and it immediately makes sense on a problem that I face on a daily basis, both in and out of my day to day work. And so it was really, really cool when I saw you come up and you Varro was the was the first name first. I did a look for you, Joseph Fung, and you’ve got a really great storied background.
You’ve got a couple of different things for you to talk about. So for folks that are new to you, Joseph, if you want to introduce yourself, tell us quickly about Loverro and then we’re going to talk about a lot of stuff in how people can get better at enabling people through the use of technology and proven historical work. That’s what led to this A.I. only.
Thanks so much for having me here. I’m I’m really looking forward to this conversation. We’re going to cover a lot of territory, and this stuff is always near and dear to the heart for Uvaro. By way of introduction, we’re on a mission to help the world’s professionals lead more fulfilling careers from their first job to their last. And we got there. I’ve been a five time tech founder and CEO, and every time building the people side of the business was always toughest, especially in the sales organization.
And we’re tackling that problem head on Jivaro and we get to see life changed every single day. And wow, is it fulfilling work? It is such a blast.
Now, the thing that I always enjoy is when you can see success come in, that people realize that there’s a repeatable thing that I’m doing and I can now leverage the fantastic capabilities of software to be able to make that process easier going forward for other folks. And I’ve done it with with mentoring. That was one thing. I was like, I keep having the same questions, get asked over and over again and effectively then built a playbook and then through developing this playbook.
Then I said, OK, now can I build a system that uses this playbook and, you know, doesn’t remove the human experience, but enhances the speed at which you can get to the human experience. And this is why I was I was really, really digging in on what you and the team are doing here, because you’re taking, like you said, multi time founders. So you’ve this is not, you know, straight out of school going, I’m going to create an idea and then create a thing and then I’m going to sell that thing.
You’re literally taking practices that you’ve developed over the course of time and now mapping them into a system. So if you don’t mind, just let’s go into the Wayback Machine and what what gave you the need, you know, in that first time you founded and as you went through this to understand that this was a real, you know, repeated problem that we see all the time.
You’re talking about the founding of Uvaro, or that way back. Yeah, each time. Yeah, even the pre Uvaro. I mean, it’s the fun that now folks that now they get to wait. They could listen because they want you want the real story, trust me. But I the lead up to it will actually will influence the reason why you are so important to.
I’ve gone through this a few times and the people who look at my my LinkedIn profile, they feel like, what the heck is this is like marketing hack and H.R. Tech. And there is a there’s a steel cable that links everything through. And if that idea of building, you know, really rewarding places where you can do your best work. And I think the real trigger was I went to the University of Waterloo, did co-op and one of my co-ops at Raytheon and a great space co-op leader, but is a multinational and they do military contracts and we did aircraft, airport surveillance radar and things like that.
They had a brand new president coming to visit. And it for me is a co-op because it’s super exciting. The guy runs a company that’s worth billions of dollars. I’m going to learn something new and, you know, maybe accelerate my career. But everybody was terrified because he planned to kill a factory. What does this mean? Why’s he visiting? And it struck me that that fear was the wrong way to build a company. I look back at it now and I’m like, Oh.
Co-op Joseph thought he could build a better company than Raytheon. That’s a very nice thought, but at the time, that’s that’s exactly what triggered me to do it. It’s like, you know what? I can build a place where people feel more aligned, more fulfilled, like they belong. And every step isn’t filled with that fear. And that’s what got me into building my first company. That was more than just a, you know, kind of a lifestyle business, soap opera style engagement.
And every step of the way, every time since it’s been that same ethos, how do I build a place where people can come and do their best work ever and now we get a chance to do that for our customers, too. And so feels in many ways like coming full circle.
The thing that you highlighted there is this thing of being able to have a different sense of experience through the same exact momentous experience as other people, and it’s funny, it’s very rare to identify that it’s different because most people don’t have the empathy to get there. Like whatever, you know, you’re that’s a you problem. What most people think, like, it’s really tough in like everybody is kind of stuck in just trying to figure their own stuff out.
And for you to be able to say, like, I’m experiencing this differently than other people, it’s notably different. And not only that, but then saying, I wonder if there’s a way that I could. If then my positive experience, and this is why I really enjoyed this story of the importance of being able to say I can gather a different, more positive outcome out of this thing, and I know it’s got to be in there in there somewhere for everybody.
How do we unlock that? And I think that’s that’s a huge thing, right? I mean, it’s changing the world in some small way every day. But then most importantly, figuring out as you do this over and over again, through different experiences, through different people. What are the commonalities that we can ultimately systematize and in doing so then? Bring it to sort of productize of people experience, which is which is kind of neat now. You’ve also definitely was interesting in that you’re you’re out, you’re directly trying to get to people and help them through this experience if you want.
Let’s talk about the heart of you, Varro, and what your mission is other than, you know, sort of the basic core that you’re aiming for.
Yeah, I mean, the crux of it comes from this, really. It’s funny, it’s one of those things you look at it and you realize, hey, you know, the world’s kind of flawed, but if you think about that career journey that anyone goes on and I mean, the stats are horrific, you know, average time in is like, what, two point eight years now? That’s like 16 different jobs a career. But what, 15 percent of people are engaged, 60 percent.
The stats are terrible. No matter where you look and the tools, the systems people have to access, whether it’s something like a LinkedIn or a job search site like indeed. Or the various platforms where you’re consuming content. The challenge is that all of these platforms, the job seeker, the individual, the professional is the product that they’re being sold to companies and to advertisers and things like that. There’s no one who’s actually aligned to the career journey of the individual.
And that’s really what’s at the core of what we’re doing. So, you know, we start right now. We’re focused on sales because every startup, every company has to start somewhere. And we really help people by providing that that full experience. We deliver training, internships, introductions, how people learn those new roles and then the coaching on an ongoing basis. And as a result, people are seeing amazing, amazing outcomes, more engaging careers. They’re talking about like opportunities of a lifetime.
You’ve changed my life. You saved my life. More income, more job satisfaction. The engagement level of our grads is so high and and change where matters like buying houses when they never could have previously looked at it, moving out like one of our own. Our students used to rent one room in a two bedroom apartment while he was saving for his son’s college education. And he goes through our program, lands a role immediately and immediately goes in to find a new apartment so that his son can visit, have a place to sleep instead of just like on the floor besides bed.
And that type of change to someone’s life is so profound. And it’s so much easier when you say, hey, I’m focused on your success, not focused on you clicking buttons so my advertisers can shift the product. And that feels really good because it’s an alignment of values that seems to be lost in so many businesses right now. So it feels really rewarding.
I enjoy that the more companies are least becoming aware to that now, this becomes the sort of salability of the benefits of the platform, that there’s an immediate people, like a direct, you know, your clients, your people that use it as me. It’s you. It’s our friends. It’s our peers. Yeah. But then as an organization, I can then look and say, if I’m using you, Varro, to empower my team, then they effectively are happier, more engaged, more likely to stay.
And what was the old, you know, oft misquoted, which I’m about to misquoted again, you know, statement of jobs or whatever, saying like, what happens if we train people and they leave and says, what’s worse, if you don’t and they stay right now and the sense that if you if you empower them to leave. So I worked four years ago. People can search my LinkedIn. And I worked for a company called Raymond James Raymond James and really enjoyed the company to work for.
I worked in the tech side, but the way they run their financial services arm is that it’s a rarity in the industry that they allow you to own your book. So you bring your customers with you, you know, or you develop your come your customer, you know, clientele. And you if you choose to leave, take it all with you. They give you the data, they give you the accounts, they help you with the migration.
If anybody who runs a financial service firm would be disturbed by the idea of doing this because the whole purpose is they’re developing your clients, Raymond James says no, no, you’re developing your clients and we’re helping you to do that. As a result, one of the lowest attrition rates in the industry because nobody feels the need to run away because they don’t feel locked in. It’s a fantastic thing. And more companies now, I think, especially in tech, are realizing that there’s so much opportunity out there.
Best thing you can do is to vastly empower your people.
It’s it’s funny because you talked about it earlier, that idea of finding a problem or solution and then trying to systematize and scale it. And for me, it’s like the engineering side of my brain. It’s really, you know, how do we optimize the systemize ties, those things? And if we think about a sales or support work, you’ve got, you know, people using your software, interacting with your customers, using your CRM. And we spend so much time optimizing, you know, the CRM, the buttons, the workflows, spent so little time trying to optimize the people.
We just kind of say, you know, we’re going to change crap around you and figure it out and see when you give people a stronger sense of autonomy, of of confidence, of a sense of investing when they perform better. And I love the example of Raymond James because that’s that’s a great example. But it happens at a smaller scale, too. Like we work with a lot of startups, a lot of scale ups. You know, a lot of our grads will go on to a 50 person company, a 20 person company, one hundred person company to see the same thing.
Our grads ramp like they get to Cuota in a third, the time at their peers, and they’re twice as likely to exceed quota. So, yeah, that’s great. That’s not about the software. That’s not about the buttons in the widgets. That’s about investing in the people. And you really can you can engineer, you can systematize your people, your culture. And that’s that’s not about making your company robotic. It’s about treating people equitably and deliberately without wasting cycles.
And it’s a very compelling thing to do.
Now, this is one that you hit a word that’s important and that’s deliberate. Hmm. We especially in startups and I say we I mean, a startup which is no longer a startup, we just got purchased by IBM where. No, you know, I’m a huge part of a huge company. But in watching the growth of this startup and many others like it. Most stuff is not deliberate, it is purely accidental, like they try to take practices that we see at big organizations.
But then the hilarious thing is your Erik Reece quotes this in his great book, Lean Startup, and he says, you get all these people that come from big companies and they create a startup. And the first thing they do is they try and create all this process they like. That’s the reason you left the big company. So we kind of look to these big sales training organizations and and these like big dollar coaching and empowerment. But if you’re not in the right phase of your company.
It’s it’s wasted money and ultimately it is repeating something that just doesn’t match, and that’s why I said it’s not their deliberate in their outcome, not the outcome of the reps. The outcome of the backoffice team, the outcome of everybody in the customer experience is the reason we call them customer success now instead of just, you know, help disguise the the word deliberate is very important because you have to say, like, what is the outcome I’m looking to do for everyone involved and what can I do to reach that?
An example of that, because I hear from founders all the time, like the idea, like, no, we’ve got we’ve got our values, we’ve got our culture. Our people are really important and. At one of the things that I found is that a lot of founders struggle to put it into practice. What does it mean? With my previous company tribe at the time that we founded it, so when we just got started, there was a if you go back and you Google the history and stuff, you’ll see there was a bunch of companies in the Toronto the Waterloo area.
And this is like all the early, early 20s, mid 20s, there’s a bunch that were purchased by US buyers and the teams moved as like Microsoft buys a team and moved them to Seattle. Google buys a team, moves them to California. And that was this big fear, like the brain drain was US companies acquiring Canadian talent and shipping them south of the border. And when we founded Tribe, one of the commitments we made to the team was we want to build a company where we can scale it for us, for our families.
We’re going to never we’re never going to ask you to move south of the border. We’re never going to do that. That’s that was one of the first commitments we made. We founded it seven of us at the time when we said it explicitly in the first meeting and. Kind of go fast forward many years we’re selling the company and we’re evaluating two things this a series, a term sheet that was beautiful, way better than we deserved. Now, I looked at our metrics.
I looked at that and I was like, wow, that was really, really sweet. Or this acquisition offer. And we hemmed and hawed and angst over the decision left, right, center. And what ended up making it a really easy decision was the idea of rewinding all the way back to those core ideas. Why did we do this? What did we commit to at the beginning? And I realized if we raised the series as we envisioned part of the next phase of the business, I got H.R. Tech.
So knowing your local stuff matters, we’d have to build a go to market team in the U.S. And even if we didn’t move everybody, the center of control would end up moving south and all of our investment would be into that US office versus the acquisition. You know, the idea was let’s use this as the kernel of building a large dev presence here in the kitchen or whatever area. And as soon as we looked at it like, wow, you know, in the first option, we’ve effectively moved the company.
S even if even if we’re still incorporated in Canada, even if I’m still living here effectively within itself. But this other example, we get a chance to build something better here for us, our friends, our families, the community. And it’s something made this like it was like this black and white, the very easy decision. And I think by making it such a principled statement at the beginning, it made later decisions dramatically easier. I did the numbers.
I was like, I will make this if we do this, this. If we do that, our shareholders will do it as I analyze it to the tenth degree, like every engineer will. But bringing it back to those core values just made it simple, crystal clear and a very easy conversation to bring to the team after.
It’s a I almost wish there was like a 50 50 or some like a marked reference that we always talk about the fiduciary responsibility of the directors of of an organization. Right. Then you have your required in order to deliver value back to the shareholders, which in most cases in a private firm, of course, is the investors. We know it’s a tough responsibility. We know as employees we hate to see stuff happen that seems counter to the people that work there.
But we also know that I know because I’m a bit deeper into it. Decisions are made for financial reasons, which cannot and which would counter what we believe is the right thing to do, so to speak. But you’ve you weighed both sides and said that I’ve been given a financial opportunity, which. While it seems like it could have a long term potential value to the shareholders, it also means that it could mean I’ve evacuated my entire employee base.
And a dissatisfied employee base, which means that has a negative impact on the value of the company. It is very hard to weigh the human impact to the long term financials and then look at what’s the what’s the thing you do. So it’s I again, huge respect that you said. You know, what do we do? You know, I could probably get this money and I could turn it into X and then scale it from there, especially as a startup in, you know, what do they actually call the I forget I said I’m from Toronto originally, so I know the area well.
And so if you mean it used to be back in the day, if you’re from Kitchener or Waterloo, you either worked for RIM or you worked for the university. Yeah. All right. So the fact that startups were popping up and getting funding and being able to stay and continue to employ people is huge. Right, that this is most people, like you said, I. I never thought I’d work for a company in tech. Because I there were no tech companies, they were U.S. companies that had a Canadian presence, so I ended up in the financial services sector for 20 years doing system architecture and stuff.
But then, you know, very different outcomes and goal. So now it’s a fast forward, much more opportunity in the startup ecosystem. And so you now have the ability to say, look, I can make these people’s lives better. So they can make their kids lives better and their peers feel good about things and ultimately hopefully draw more people to these type of ecosystems.
It’s a it’s a. The only way to put it is it’s like a privilege to have that opportunity, because now I take a look and we sold the company to NetSuite who was then sold to Oracle. And I see now there’s a tower in downtown Kitchener where under my stewardship we snagged two floors book. The third hadn’t filled it out. I think there are four or five floors now, several hundred people. And just I mean, people doing some really amazing work.
And I’ve got former colleagues there. I’ve got friends who then went to work there and we’re on some really brilliant stuff. And so that expertize is now floating around the local ecosystem. And that’s exciting. That’s really cool.
Because it’s always interesting when you look, it’s like when you drive by an old, you know, job place or even an old school and you’re like, oh, wow, you think at the time you spent there in the phase of your life and their life and the world at that time, it must be incredible to look at. Post acquisition successes that have been imparted on the people that went with it, which is such a beautiful thing to be able to see happen totally like when our first employee for Tribe.
What a fun journey, the first job that we posted was for clubs of Because You Never Want to Lose or DELAMATER, all that worst freaking job posting ever, I think is what I hear you getting the job. If I remember right, I think it was something like, do you thrive with independent work? You might be the only employee. Do you like high risk? High reward? We’re not sure if you’ll get paid. I mean, Handschu.
So Ryan, who took it, shows off to his first interview at at a coffee shop sporting the angriest mullet I’ve ever seen. And it turns out he’s a man who is a hockey team and they’re in the playoffs. They were you just letting it grow? Because I was a part of the team, the co-founders. It was like, you know, what, if he’s brave enough to wear that to an interview, was brave enough to work for us.
Let’s go. Let’s do it. I mean, like all startups, you’re hacking it together. So, I mean, our first office was like one room in the back of a car dealership because that’s where we could get some free desk space. And Ryan just did a great job through all the curveballs that we threw out and he ran with it. He did a great job through the exit and the acquisition, so made a change to him and his wife’s life.
Still still there, like within the security organization, amazing building, amazing stuff. And she can see that the individuals and the fun stories, but he also gets now act as that threat of continuity as the organization is growing around him. And that’s super cool.
I was thinking of was like Full Metal Jacket, you know, or like they start off and you see the guys getting their heads shaved in like they’re the new recruits. And then the second half of the movie is them being the seasoned people, bringing in the next class. And it’s like it’s it is cool to see that folks can thrive through those changes, because another thing I’ve discovered is there’s often not staging type of training and coaching. If you in the startup ecosystem, you find there’s a lot of players at a space, a level of growth.
So you get these sort of teams that just come in and they’re like SWAT teams, it’s come in. They’re like, yeah, I’m I’m from like half a million to 10 million in revenue. That’s it. The moment they hit like 50 million revenue, they start to get weirded out and they leave. But a lot of folks survive those sort of SWAT team infusions and there’s nothing for them through those progressions. That’s what I’m curious. Where do you see different types of training and coaching and mentoring that can be done for folks to say, hey, if you want to be a if you want to be the five to 10 million kid, go for it, but will enable you for that.
But if you want to thrive from one million to one hundred million, then we’ve got something that we can help you through all the way.
I love the idea that stage appropriate training and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it. That’s specific training offerings like, hey, go, go take this course to learn what it’s like to go from, like, you know, one two million series A to 10 million doing your series B. I think where the onus really lies, though, is ultimately on leadership in many ways. I suppose there’s actually two answers to that for us on the overall side.
One of the big things we do is we do we spend a lot of time talking about what it’s like selling it to the different groups. And the reason we do it is not because we think people need to know the different mechanisms, but what we found is when people fit and they go into an organization that fits what they want to do, they’re more successful. What’s better than knowing the different stages is knowing where you thrive. And so in sales at things like the companies early and figuring it out, you’re going to do the full cycle by selling your whole thing.
And that comes with all the stress and all the dynamism and all of that. But if you like being an expert in your domain, a more established company will have more defined roles. Still a lot of room to carve out new territories to build new features. But you’re going to have some better guidelines and better mentorship. We’re doing that in the sale side of things, and so that’s why I think we have such a good hit rate, but I’ve never seen anything like that across a company.
And all the things I try to do as a founder is spend time with my teams just talking about what you should expect to see in the coming year. And sometimes it’s really simple things like we’re really early, so, hey, sales team or engineering team, you’re all reporting to me that’s going to stop. And it’s not because they don’t like you and it’s not because you’re not. But as we scale that happens and. We talked about that SWAT team, if you had people who have gone through this before, their heads are not in danger.
That makes sense. I got this. No, let’s go. But the people have never been through before. That’s terrifying. It’s really terrifying. And I think it’s founders. We spend so much time just being scared about everything we’re doing. We forget how disruptive that is for most people. You know, they’re trying to crank out a marketing campaign, crank out a bit of code, crank out some support lines, and all of a sudden it feels like the world was turned upside down because of an order change like.
We will do a lot more influence in people’s lives than we really internalize sometimes.
And it raises the importance of this idea of creating coaching and mentoring programs to to make sure that people can know they’ve got some baseline, they’ve got something they can lean into, because quite often that’s like culture is a class thing. One of my favorite, you know, I’ve read far too many books and I’ve got far too many unread ones and myself as well. But the culture code is one that I still reread often, you know, Legacy by James Care as well.
Also a fantastic one talking about the New Zealand All Blacks and this idea that a culture is the way they behave when you’re not looking. And as much as the masthead behind the receptionist’s desk says, you know, we are a people company, when the people on Slack are saying yes, not a people company like it’s that begins to happen and that can ultimately infuse that sort of inner fear and that misunderstanding of what’s next. So it becomes pervasive in the culture and there’s as a founder, you can’t be like pouring over the entire organization constantly to look for that.
You’ve got to create a system. You can let them sort of self discover, hopefully, and ultimately staved off.
I want to come back to that system thing, but I want to ask in a local ecosystem, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I find. Every three, five or six years, it’s like the same blog post article pops back up and it’s like a CEO whose company got to typically somewhere between 50 and older people. And the blog post usually goes something like this culture can’t be created, it’s the thing that emerges and you need to let it grow and then document and capture what happened.
And it drives me nuts, because what that tells me is it’s a founder, CEO that ignored their culture until it got to a point where they said, crap, I got to get my arms around it. And now that I get my arms around it, I’m going to, you know, expound upon why this is a normal thing. And I personally find it very frustrating because I’m a very firm believer that you can be very deliberate in your culture.
And if you do it at day zero, if you start at zero, it’s so much easier. Like forevermore. It’s I if you want a good analogy, it’s like SEO or it’s like code quality or anything. Like if you start paying attention to it early on, it’s way easier to maintain.
Why do we not have culture debt like we have technical debt, we have financial debt, we have all these things, but yet somehow they know they don’t attack this idea that that is a effectively a cultural debt. We create that. We’ll get to this later. Well, we’ll we’ll write it down once we discover it. Like, no, that’s the thing you discover won’t be the thing you wanted because you didn’t hire into culture you hired and culture came out of it.
You don’t want your culture to be a side effect. Right. We tend to think about it is like internally for us. We think about it as a separate thing. It’s like the product is, hey, this process we’re changing, how is it going impact the culture or, hey, you know, it’s time for us to clean up some of the edges or hey, let’s upgrade it or touch investigative culture 2.0 is ready. Let’s say let’s get it put into place.
Yeah, it’s funny. Like it raises all these silly metaphors, but it is like if you think about something that takes on this life of its own and how do you make something that will last beyond the founders, the CEO, the founding team, the customers, the product, the market, because all those things will change. How do you create something that has more longevity and actually a good review? You talked about scaling. You know what people say behind the scenes.
I’ll share. So we’ve honed this over a couple of companies and I love you raise that question earlier on the things that you get better at every time. This is something I think we do really well. The idea of conversations like manager, employee, one on ones. Yes. Do those. That’s regular. I’m sure everybody who’s listening does this already. If not pretend you are because you should be asking what a big old if you haven’t, I need you to stop and write that in your to do list and put it on your bloody calendar because it needs to happen like a minimum biweekly, make it happen whatever.
But we see one on ones as one of three redundant layers for culture communications. So is kind of like security, you know, defense in depth. So we do our one on ones separately. We have a system of executive buddies. So we have our upper layer of management, our executive team, and we will pair every employee with an executive that is not in their direct line of report. And it’s not intended to be structured one on ones, it’s not intended to be backdoor conversations, but it’s a chance to get an executive who is mentoring you, coaching you through your conversations, giving you another perspective, letting you try on email, language for size, conversation, language or size, challenging assumptions.
You don’t say, hey, I was in that one or one and I don’t know what my boss thought of that’s. So you got an exact body. So that’s our second tier. And that’s that builds the mentorship scale in our executives, too. And it’s a great reminder that all of their direct reports are having conversations. And then our third layer, we run these regular meetings, we call them Hello Friends, and we have an employee. She’s part of our people culture team.
But she’s not responsible for like H.R. processes. She’s not responsible for recruiting. This is her primary responsibility. And she does regular dropping coffees with people. And it’s confidential. It’s like kind of cone of silence. Check in. How are you doing? How’s the team doing and how are you feeling? What are you worried about? And her job is to look for trends and highlight worrying signs and nothing identifiable. Her job is to anonymize her job and say, these are the things your people are worried about.
You know, watch for it. Yeah, because we’re not going to catch everything and thinking about your systems or people’s systems in the same way you think about like your security or your processes, like the holes become very glaring very quickly becomes a matter of you can’t create a system if it doesn’t ultimately have a feedback loop. And we think of like the classic outta loop. Right. So you observe this is the you know, see what’s going on Orient based on the what’s happening in the signals, then decide, OK, I can either deal with this X or Y way or whatever it’s going to be.
What what do we do about this particular signal? Do we integrate it as core? Do we deal with it as anomalous, whatever, and then act, then what do you put in place? And ultimately that then feeds back to changing the way that you observe and orient because you then have to take that into account. The next thing like these signals are very non, sometimes even nonverbal, but they’re not what people will feel it. In the anonymous employee survey that went to your corporate email that has your email in the URL when you click it, the like, you know, are my favorite thing.
I work for a marketing team at the time we were when we were still a small organization relative to our chunk of the world. So it sounds like, you know, this is completely anonymous. What team do you here for? Work, for marketing? Well, that’s down to thirty people. OK, what where do you live? I am at the time I was in Toronto like so I said I’m immediately not anonymous. I’m the only marketing person in Toronto.
This is not anonymous at all. And there’s no option of I don’t feel this out like. So you’re going to fill out the survey based on what you believe they want the survey to say for the most part, which is unfortunate versus like you said, getting out there and saying, look, I know I work for this company, but I don’t affect your pay. I affect the way that we help you get better. People are more likely to be open and in their discussions, it’s you have to separate human resources.
It’s such a strange thing. And, you know, now we call them chief people, officer or whatever the whatever the title of, you know, the trendy title is going to be. It’s the fact that you have to separate the people experienced from. Legal and payroll, which is fundamentally what a lot of human resources teams are, they call it culture, but in the end, you you have a you’re there to protect the company from liability, protect the employee from liability.
It’s hard to split that line and really make culture a part of the human and people organization.
I think it’s also a lot of companies and I tend to see this in kind of first time, earlier stage founders a little bit more where they believe ownership of that culture sits inside an organization. So they try to hire someone and say, hey, you can fix this, right? Oh, yeah. Also in compliance and payroll and recruiting and company events do all that and fix culture while you’re at it. And I there’s only a few things that can sit on that CEO’s plate, you know, unequivocally, like don’t run out of money.
Yeah. Don’t screw up the culture. Yeah, I kind of put those up there. So I think it’s it’s really easy to believe that you’ve hired someone and that solves the problem. But I think founders need to make sure that they don’t forget that they’re ultimately responsible for it.
Yeah, it’s tough, like you said, those two core responsibility is what’s the you’re you’re responsible for growing the company and reducing risk. And of course, one of the biggest ones is keeping the company alive. You know, ultimately, there’s two reasons that companies fail. They either run out of money or the founders leave. You know, they choose to exit the situation. It’s generally finances will be the biggest thing that take that company out. But, you know, this is so it’s good.
I mean, I love the idea. Now, here’s the interesting thing. Speaking of, Lou, how much of the work that you have through you, Varro then ultimately feeds back to the next time you do things. And as you bring back, OK, based on the last six months, we’ve noticed some different signals coming from people. Maybe we should integrate. How does that continue to evolve as you build the practice?
Constantly. I mean. So much of what we architected was around optimizing the feedback loops, and I think a really good comparison would be things like look at post-secondary education, they generally do an annual intake cycle, and if they’re launching a new program or a new course, they’ll run it once, get the class through, take a term or semester to kind of think about the feedback maybe offered the next year. She’ll look at this annual cycle and. If you’re on your long sprints, you’re just not exactly going to go well.
Yeah, when we founded you, it. So our program is a three month program, and it scares the crap out of our team. You know, we’re going to launch a group every month. Day one is like a group every month. So by the time we get to the second group, we’ve got two months worth of feedback. By the time we get to the third group, we’ve got two first months and one second month with the feedback and so are our processes.
May cut in as we go. Everything from like regular feedback surveys, check ins, follow up with our alumni and our grads. We’ve just moved to launching multiple cohorts a month and by the end of the year to be doing weekly. And you can’t you can’t do that if you don’t have feedback, you know, baked right in. And the part that’s been really cool is we’ve got we have our training programs, but we also have the right software platform that’s used by the tenders out tens of thousands of sales reps across North America.
So we get to see what are the types of content or features or items like are people talking about objection handling? Are they talking about security? Are they talking about customer stories? And so we get both that kind of usage data to influence our curriculum and our programing. But we also see that really, really tight feedback cycle with our classes because we’re launching them every few weeks. And you’re right, without that loop, you’re just doing the same thing again and again.
You’re not improving.
This is the the beautiful merger where you can have many systems ultimately feed each other because you’re you’re doing things. Let’s talk about Kate, actually, because we talked to the very start. I wanted to make sure that I gave it. Do you know advertisement here this afternoon? Sounds awful, but like it deserves recognition. I actually I use the platform, so I I’m very deep in this idea because we’re all in sales. Bad news, kids. You’re all in sales.
You may not be directly in sales, but you’re supporting sales and work and technical marketing. So I have to understand objections and competitive plays and stuff. And so I looked at it and it was immediately obvious how fantastic it was going to be because it just made sense. Again, like you said it, then from there, it can help to influence the purely human enablement side. So this is a an amazing thing. How how lucky is it and how hard did you work to get that lucky of.
Taking the approach of having a systematize productize thing and then having it ultimately feed another another business, yeah, it’s it’s funny because where we are right now, we look at it like, wow, so much good fortune there. And the journey when you break it into the steps makes a lot more sense. And and it was very deliberate. I mean, the platform is it’s used primarily by tech companies, scale ups and fantastic attacks. The companies we’ve got great, great teams using it.
The part that was really cool was our go to market strategy was working with sales trainers. So if you’re company and you bring somebody in to build your sales process, they might leave behind a bunch of kids or they might leave behind Caite Playbook’s. And so we have these fantastic firms that we’re doing sales training and training programs. And as we started to dig into the usage data, they literally fantastic IRAP project. So, I mean, you want to toss in all the elements of a story, a government funded research to figure out what the heck to do.
All this data we uncovered these really interesting insights, like silly little things, like we look at our highest performing customers, the ones who are growing fastest, adding team members, crushing sales goals. And by and large, they had way more information about their personas and their target customers, but surprisingly, way less about objection handling. And that really had a scratching their heads because, I mean, sales traders always spent time on objection handling like how do you handle those?
And what we uncovered was that there was an inverse correlation. So across the board, the companies that did a really good job of doubling down on their personas, their buyers, their details didn’t have the same need for objection handling. So as a result in our curriculum, they’re not treated as two separate subject is treated at the same thing. How do your personas, your ICP, influence your objection handling? So how do you emphasize the one, decrease the other, drive up your total growth?
And so on an ongoing basis, we get to pull out these insights, these methodologies and push the of our curriculum and even to when we launched the first version of our it all came from our customers on the software side. We talk to them, we say, hey, how do we get you to use more software? And they’d also their biggest trouble is hiring, hiring great sales reps because we hire people, but no one knows how to sell software.
And so we bring in these trainers. They cost an arm and leg and they do great work. But because they cost so much, we can only bring them in annually, maybe every six months. And so you hire someone, they have to wait six months for the next sales cycle. No wonder it takes him eight months to ramp. And so when they said, hey, if there was a way to hire more people who had some software training experience, and that’s not simply just go recruit from LinkedIn or Salesforce, there’s a there’s a supply demand imbalance.
There’s, what, 50, 60 thousand B2B software sales reps out there in North America. We need another three hundred sixty thousand over the next decade. We can’t all just hire from LinkedIn. The need became really apparent, according to my next job is now. Good golly.
It’s it’s like it’s an absolute supply demand. This is terrifying. The difference that we’re about to face in the next.
Well, when I was going into university, all the conversation was like, the world’s going to need more, you know, computer scientists and engineers except for the ninety nine Hiko, like just as we’re all getting into it and we’re all like, oh crap, none of us can have jobs. I’m glad we were wrong. But if I, if I got two kids, if they were graduating right now and I was trying to say, hey, if you want a really good job security for the next 10 years, that’s what I’d be pointing at them, because that that imbalance in supply and demand is so.
And that’s just in tech like Greg Gardner studies like the way all business products are being sold are going to look like the way we sell Souse. And yeah, that’s not more robots and less humans. That’s just automate the crap. So the human element carries more weight. That’s exciting.
Yeah, this is the the thing that I try to tell people of, like we use these products to improve processes, CSR, I’m a Canadian so I can say this without making when I say processed the. But we do this, it always has to be to empower the people to do better and create measurability, which is a really this is the tough line and you’re close to this. So I’m curious at what point when people detect their KPIs, are attached to their performance, start to change the way they behave is the Eli Gold rat thing from the goal.
He says, show me how you measure me and I’ll show you how to behave. And it’s a dangerous thing where when you realize you’re being trained towards a KPI, that all you’re eyeing is the KPI, not the behavior that ultimately drives the outcome, which is a measurable thing via a KPI. So. How do we how are you finding people successful at. We’re not looking at the fact that they’re being watched or that metric.
It’s funny because we never try to encourage people to imagine they’re not being watched because it. Eh, they’re going to be up for a rude awakening. Is that going to be a boss who has a conversation or a colleague like over beers, like, by the way, you know, that this like. Oh, my. Yeah. Really, what we try to do is we try to make sure that if it’s not really up to the individual to manage that situation, it really is up to leaders in management.
I really like I think this is an area honestly where marketing and sales in most areas of the organization can learn from engineering, like in engineering organization. At the end of the day, you’ll have some high level outputs like overall development velocity or maybe it’s product quality and uptime, like whatever your North Star is for your organization. And that’ll vary. But you’ve instrumented your development process all the time, like code coverage. Operate on your Sprint’s velocity or variants on it, delivery versus commit and.
You know, having a really strong sense of like here’s this North Star, but the process is bigger than any one of us. So if we sense there’s something off in the process, how do we choose to focus on a Capi KPI for a while to make sure that that’s not the hang up? And once that’s good, we bring that lens over and focus on and depending on the engineer, you say this is like the lens or the magnifying glass or the eye or Sauron.
You know, we’re going to focus on a different area of the process. And most engineering teams that I’ve worked with are fairly comfortable with that. It’s like, hey, maybe for the next sprint or the next quarter we’re going to pay attention to test reliability or uptime or coverage or whatever it is. What I’ve seen in sales and marketing is there’s not that same sense of the sales and marketing process is external to the individuals. It’s this thing or trying to improve.
And so people take a KPIs in the ownership of them very personally. You know, they think about their open rate on their emails or their clickthrough or their engagement on the content, and they think about it, is them succeeding or failing, not about the system or working or not. And ultimately, I think that’s when that happens. That’s a failure of leadership, not helping the team separate themselves from the sales process because I’ve seen more sales reps lose it, lose their jobs, or leave an organization because the process was wrong, not because of their individual failing.
And that that’s a it’s a hard thing to separate, but it’s super important to try.
Funny that, you know, and I mentioned Ghodrat, which is apropos to this idea of like with engineering. Of course, this is what Jean came in and the team developed and they talked about the the the Phenix project. And and since then, they’ve they’ve done the developes handbook’s. These are methodologies that, you know, and it works like you set this marker of quality or whatever it is, you set the measurement, you move the constraint, you know, and ultimately we’re always attacking the constraint.
And as a result, it affects the goal. And the goal is velocity and quality. Whatever in sales is different because in engineering, no one says, hey, you squashed 400 bugs this quarter. So next quarter I’m setting it to five hundred like it’s very different because in sales, it’s always like you’re going to give 110 percent kid. Like there’s an unfortunate sort of screaming coach from the sidelines mentality that that is the I’ll say the lifestyle of a sales organization is they they think and act differently.
They set big, hairy, audacious goals. Engineering cannot do that. Because it means that they will set themselves up for failure, so they learn to like tighten the measurement to tighten the success rates. So this is. I wonder if there’s a way that we could get better at, like empowering sales without taking the go get them kid, you know, kind of of capability in it.
But I think there’s also, to some extent, you know, confounding kind of a few statements in there. I see a lot of engineering teams who said some really audacious goals like, hey, you know what? We’re going to ship this feature for Q1. And you know what? Maybe all the bells, all the whistles, all the stories won’t make it in, but you’re going to kill it. We’re going to do a hackathon to make it happen.
And, you know, we’re going to kind of pull out all the stops and really make sure this delivers. And it’s really exciting. So I see teams do that and sales teams have their Nalgae with quarter goals or upgrades or things like that. And I think every team needs their version of that. And the sales version is very much like that. What gets Convolve, though, is there are some bad management practices that happen. You gave an example there of like as soon as you had success with the goal post.
You know, James is you made your quota. Bad news is your quota just went up by 30 percent for next year, which is why you see a lot of sales teams ultimately do a stint. They’ll do two years, they’ll do a strong relationship sale, and then they go to another company and take the relationships with them kind of idea.
And I mean, there’s there’s definitely management practices that that exacerbate it. But I think that’s a really good example as well of if the organization doesn’t separate out the process from the people, that feels terrible right now. If we zoom out for a lovely, great as a company, we get better. Our marketing team starts doing their job better. So now we have better quality leads. Our sales automation is better. So we’re, you know, filtering out bad quality leads at a better rate.
Our product is better. So now customers like it more. We have more customers who have better testimonials. Yes, the sales motion as a result is likely easier. So, yes, it makes sense that quotas and territories may shift. Likewise, as we scale a sales team, we’ve got more people we’ll have to draw new territory boundaries and. It’s really important, I think, as a company that you talk about those systems as the process and that those things happen because the companies are succeeding, not because a failure of the individual.
And likewise, your managers need to be really committed, invested to the success of the individuals so that the things you do when you succeed are feeling like you’re penalizing the people who got you there, because you’re right. Otherwise it feels like great, you hit your quotas, were raising the quota, create your top performing sales reps who are splitting your territory.
We’re throwing you in Wisconsin. You know, I shouldn’t joke about that. Wisconsin has a massive market. I’ve always I sort of joke about some poor dairy producers in Wisconsin. Millions upon millions of dollars in revenue come out of out of Wisconsin because there’s a ton of industry there. But it’s this whole thing like, yeah, you do great in the Northeast and they’re like, OK, we’re sending it to Nebraska, kid. You know, we to get that territory off the ground, like, oh, I can’t get my coat out there.
You hit the nail on the head, Doug. Imagine a rap where like, hey, you used to be in California. You know, you got like, you know, 30, 40 million people as your patch. And now you’re Wisconsin. You’ve got less than six. Yeah. It’s really hard to just say those stats and not leave somebody feeling like you just punch them in the stomach. And you got to separate that she was like, hey, great, as a company, we’re at the next stage so we can rejigger these things.
This is what we need. We’re asking you to do it because you have the most confidence in you. It’s a scary thing. What can we do to help you succeed and make this a win for you? Very different conversation and like, great, we’re downsizing your territory by five, six.
Yeah, we’re taking you off of two named accounts that you built up from the ground up because it’s like you’ve you’ve done an amazing thing. We’re handing it to this rep that needs to cut his teeth a bit more. You know, we’ve got a new lady and she’s really great. So we’re going to let her take over this big account. And you’re like, no, no, no, no. I mean. Who knows, right? But if and the sale goes beyond the initial sale, this the other thing, too, is that people often forget is that renewals are this is what we get measured on, is are not just are recurring revenue is the what will bury a company selling a bunch of stuff once is not a successful sales organization.
It’s it’s changing the culture of sales. And ultimately the playbook goes along with it because you don’t just have to defend it once. You’ve got to continuously make sure the product represents the outcomes the customer needs and that you can continue to represent the value relative to the price that you’re charging. Seems fundamental and simple, but it’s hard to do because also you’re fighting for organizations that, hey, look, we just went through covid. Revenues for those companies went down, so they we have to get way better as a vendor to present value, and it may mean sacrifices in a lot of different directions, and it may mean we lose accounts for no reason other than the fact that they just need to tighten down.
It’s really hard, and one of the things that I see is that a lot of a lot of teams haven’t. They haven’t fully instrumented their business and people often miss that that idea of churn. That’s an upper limit of how big you’re going to grow. Your growth hits and asymptote and its position is governed by your churn rate. And the difference between like a two percent churn, a five, a 10 I seen that is 30. That brings your upper growth limit down.
And a lot of teams fail to realize that if you’ve got a growth curve and you try to make it steeper, you try to hire more sales reps, you invest more marketing, you want to grow steeper. The side effect is it can often bring down that churn. And you really don’t want what looked like this nice, smooth growth curve to suddenly be a square wave. Because if you do that, you’re capping the value of your business and it can look really great.
You can raise money, but then you hit that cap really hard and it feels like just crashing into a ceiling and that sets you up for four down rounds if your fundraising turnover on your people bad customer experiences. So it’s tough. Sometimes you have to forego that speedy, speedy, speedy growth just for that long term opportunity with the company.
Well, this raises an interesting thing of, you know, we talking you’ve you’ve had, you know, multiple companies you founded. You’re very successful in the two that you’re working with now. You’ve empowered a lot of people, which is amazing. The trouble I have often when we talk to a lot of founders, especially serial founders, is we talk to same when we talk to poker players and no one talks about the hundred hands they lost. That never that they got dumped out, they were like they weren’t even like in the top 100 in a tournament, they make it to the World Series of Poker, but then they lose tournament after tournament after Sherman again.
But they have the drive to learn feedback, come at it like and go at it again. So I’m curious, Joseph, look, I don’t spend dark thoughts on it, but what have been some challenges that you’ve had to go through in your own personal history to it?
I mean, there’s all the every startup has various forms of like founder drama, investor drama, acquisition, drama. And if you talk to anybody, you’re going to get the same stories. So I’m always happy to riff on those. But and we have limited time.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re almost done here to two things that stuck out to me, though. It’s funny because, yeah, we could train them as challenges. I’ve always felt them is like really good learning opportunities. One of my earliest companies, we were selling a white labeled web content management system like WordPress. But before WordPress existed and we had a unique solution where we sold through advertising agencies, marketers, and it was totally white labels because at the time everybody was worried about everyone had a, quote, Web guy who was very gendered.
It was the language they were using it for what it was worried about that person stealing their clients. White label solution. Really great. We had an upfront fee subscription offering, but this was before kind of SACE as a as a delivery mechanism. And one of the things we recognized was the entire way we thought about the app, we thought about mobility. You know, people needed to upload it, hosted themselves. They you know, if if we went down, they could keep the website forever.
We had to make a lot of things into it to serve the market at the time. But we recognized that the our market was a very specific buyer and we would have to have a fundamentally different business to get to the broader pool of website owners. And we recognized that it wasn’t that wasn’t challenged. We’re going to readily overcome. And so we split the company into and sold it because we recognized the opportunity wasn’t there. And that was a tough a tough pill to swallow to say, hey, you know what?
We picked a direction. We had some success, good growth, but we are not in the right position to see the kind of outcome that we really want is a good outcome. Made money back for our friends and family investors. We’re not in the belts or the company, but the. It, my friends, that it the right way, like it’s like, you know, you got that kid and you something, you look at it with honest eyes and go, Oh, I got an ugly baby crap twins.
And it just it wasn’t going to have the opportunity. That was a tough one. And we tried our most recent. This is a classic look, we’re a Canadian company selling it to North America, the US, and we never fully internalized how miserably painful benefits, enrollment and payroll are in the states. And that read the blog post, talk to the customers we never felt did because we’d never run payroll and benefits internally. And until we really got there with U.S. employees and we recognized how exquisitely painful it was and we realized we had underemphasized that area of our product so badly.
We were now a good year and a half, two years behind with that space wanted to be. And so as we were looking at the next step, it was like, hey, here’s a massive investment for us to stay ahead and in many ways catch up and exceed the competition versus selling the company. And that influenced our decision a lot. And the interesting thing is one of our our our premium investors, like best investors on our board, great.
Ended up after our sale investing and doubling down in another tech company. So there’s definitely a lot of like, oh, you know, could that have been us great. But the reality is everything we saw happen in the space. We realized, you know, we made the right decision. We made the right call. We. It honestly evaluated the decisions we made and now with everything that we knew, we were making, again, a good decision.
So, yes, it’s hard to reflect honestly on the work that you do and then not beat yourself up over it.
Well, and I appreciate like you said, you framed it beautifully, Joseph, and it’s been a real pleasure to spend time, you know, the idea of of lessons in that lessons and signals that feedback to choices and in the way that we build and continue to learn. So I’ll make sure I have links, of course, to Uvaro, and to Kiite for folks that want to get in, get in on this. I’m a fan of Kiite.
This is like this is so bloody easy. I can’t I can’t believe how easy it was. So I do appreciate it. And it’s been a real pleasure. And if folks if they want to reach out to you directly, Joseph, what’s the best way that they can do that?
Oh, they can hit me up on LinkedIn. Instagram I’m on most social is at Joseph. Always welcome the outreach, especially with other founders. So that’s very cool. Joseph, thank you very much. It’s been a real great conversation and I look forward to catching up again. And we can talk about the next phase of growth and and whatever is next as well.
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Emily Omier is a Positioning Consultant who helps companies confidently give their product a label and focus their marketing and sales on the types of companies and engineers that will value it most.
Emily’s knowledge and experience in successful positioning and product market fit for open source platforms is something that makes this a real must-listen as we explore so much of the world of product management, product marketing, and much more.
[00:00:00.780] Hey, everybody, this is Eric Wright, the host of your podcast, and this is a really, really great episode, talking about the value and business of open source and in fact, it talks about product management.
[00:00:12.420] Good golly, there’s actually so many incredible lessons in here. So hang tight. But before we get started, I want to make sure I give a big thanks to our fine friends and the sponsors of this episode, which include our Friends at Veeam Software. So everything you need for your data protection and disaster recovery needs to vee.am/discoposse
[00:00:31.440] They got a really good deal that they’re able to get you set up with. Most importantly, you can actually either just grab it on the spot or get connected with them and let them know that you came from here. They’re longtime friends. So whether it’s your data on premises, whether stays in the cloud, whether it’s virtualization, physical servers and even your cloud native with the Kasten solution, very, very cool.
[00:00:52.840] Wants to check it out to go get our vee.am/discoposse. All right. Next up.
[00:01:00.540] Oh, I love coffee. Did I mention that I love coffee? In fact, I love coffee so much that I bought a coffee company. So if you want to go and check out the coffee brand that’s going to take over the coffee world or at least play a major part in it. You can go to diabolical coffee dotcom the sponsors, because, hey, I want to make sure that I share really, really neat stuff for doing so when you actually buy coffee through diabolical coffee, dotcom coffee and we got really cool swag, wicked great T-shirts, they’re devilishly good proceeds from the profits do go to giving back to our community.
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[00:01:45.150] Make sure if you want to learn how to give better software demos, go check out the 4-step guide to delivering extraordinary software demos. You can easily find that at velocity closing dotcom. That’s right. It’s a three sponsor day. And with that, let’s jump in. Emily Omier is going to join me for this.
[00:01:59.850] Emily is also a podcaster. She’s a consultant. She’s doing something that’s really a tough nut to crack and she’s doing it well.
[00:02:09.450] So she has the business of Cloud Native podcast, and she’s got a lot more that she’s doing up around speed in the sales and finding might, you know, market category and product market fit, especially in Kubernetes and open source.
[00:02:21.940] So go check it out. Here’s Emily Omier. Hi, everyone, I’m Emily Omier. I am a positioning consultant who works with companies in the cloud native ecosystem, particularly those built around or related to open source projects. And you are listening to the DiscoPosse podcast.
[00:03:10.660] Emily, thank you very much for for joining us. I was excited to get connected so I can and for folks that don’t already know, you will get into your intro. But I got to give a big shout out to Chris Psaltis, who connected us together.
[00:03:26.490] And Chris, he’s so fantastic. I had such a great chat with him. And and so he got to break the video barrier here on the podcast, which was kind of fun. And then immediately after we talked, he says, you’ve got to talk to Emily Omeir. She’s amazing.
[00:03:42.630] And, you know, so I was like, you had me at a recommendation and here we are.
[00:03:49.290] So, Emily, if you want to introduce yourself for folks that don’t already know you and we’ll talk about the open source positioning challenge and a lot more, actually.
[00:03:59.580] Yeah. So the first thing is there’s there’s probably a non-zero number of listeners who are like, I wonder what a positioning consultant is and I wonder what positioning is. So let me start there. Most. People who are non marketers might not have heard of positioning, even marketers often have sort of a distorted idea about what positioning is. Some people think that positioning some marketers, I should say, think about positioning as like a positioning statement that you that you write out and honestly is just kind of like an exercise that doesn’t end up often being super useful.
[00:04:42.470] But what positioning really is, is about creating the correct assumptions in the mind of everybody. So ultimately, the most important is in the mind of your prospects. But it’s. You don’t want to just think about in the mind of your prospects, because those aren’t the only people that matter. You also care about like what journalists who work in the industry think about your product and how they’re going to write about it. You care, if you get venture funding, you’re going to care what investors think about your company.
[00:05:14.530] If you have an open source project, you care about what the community thinks about your project, so positioning is about creating the right assumptions and it comes down to how do you describe your product? What market are you targeting? So how how do you segment your market, which is how do you determine what are the characteristics of your ideal customers? And that that’s oh, and then there’s a last thing, which is like what are the the values that the unique value that you provide and that.
[00:05:49.040] So that’s what I help companies figure out basically is what’s the best way to describe what our product is? That seems sort of basic, but a lot of founders actually find it really challenging. And who who should we market to who’s going to find this most useful?
[00:06:07.700] Yeah, this is we’re going to get into some of the neat, dirty behind the scenes work, which I often cringe even when I have to use these phrases, because one of the things that that you do particularly well is really create a human connection through the use of words that ties technology to value and human value. And ultimately through human value, we get business value as well.
[00:06:32.600] And it’s we often forget that that takes a lot of work. Right, as the old ways of the Mark Twain thing.
[00:06:39.440] Right. If I had a if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. We we it’s very easy for us to go on, you know, write about our story. And I’ve often done that. Right. Like, it’s you’re trying to give your elevator pitch. If it takes a hundred and twenty floor building to give you your elevator pitch, then it’s not an elevator pitch.
[00:06:58.790] You need to really be able to, you know, sort of quickly tell, hey, you know, this is this is a real problem that people have.
[00:07:05.780] You may have experienced yourself. So actually, what my company does is we solve that in a way that’s that’s actually never been done before, which allows you to be able to do this and this and this. And then as a result, then this is actually now you can get on to doing better things.
[00:07:20.030] And it’s like it seems so fundamentally simple, but it’s really difficult to do.
[00:07:26.000] And then on top of that, we then have to bring in.
[00:07:29.420] I’ll say kind of like mechanized language around it, and even you used a word that makes me gnash my teeth and I use it, I don’t even use it myself because I’ve got an allergy is the word prospekt, because I very much like I know that it’s a it’s a term it’s a sales term.
[00:07:43.900] We use it and I still fight it.
[00:07:45.580] And generally I say like prospective customer, because I know if I’ve I’ve actually had folks that are really good technical sellers and they’ll say, hey, I was talking to a prospect to that.
[00:07:56.980] And I was like, oh, that hurts just here, because I’m now I know I’m a prospect versus like I’ll say like, you know, you should say I was talking to somebody else who’s similar function in a similar role. Is you over another company or like somebody else in the community. And I get them to kind of soften the language.
[00:08:15.370] But the truth is, behind the scenes, we have to you know, we talk about prospects and and value statements and positive business outcomes and all this stuff like this. But how did you get to do this, Emily?
[00:08:26.890] Like, this is No one. No one thinks that this is a fun idea to take on, because this is a lesson in an exercise in in frustration building this stuff.
[00:08:36.970] I’m not sure that’s true that nobody thinks it’s fun to take on. There we go.
[00:08:42.280] I was just going to say that I was actually writing a blog post this morning. I found myself writing like buya no, I deleted it, but I deleted it.
[00:08:52.660] And then but it’s like I do think so. I used to be a journalist and aside and I’m also like I’m a language person. I really I also speak a couple of foreign languages. So I really think word choice is very important and. Yeah, to the point about Prospekt versus versus prospective customers versus buyers or whatever, like ultimately there is a difference between saying your buyer and your prospect anyway. So it can be really hard to make sure that you’re using the right the right words, especially when some of them are kind of cringe worthy.
[00:09:28.190] Yeah, because you have to talk about your EEB, your economic buya, you know, your technical champion. And we like there is at least sort of common phrasing. I always just it it hurts me when leaks out, you know, it’s kind of like when an internal email makes it to the outside world.
[00:09:43.940] You like, look, we know how that happens behind the scene, but then it becomes like if you’ve ever watched a rather famous bit by Bill Hicks on on marketing and he it’s a fantastic thing to listen to, not if you’re in marketing in our soft at heart, because he kind of rips that all apart. And the whole thing, he’s like, oh, yeah, this is you.
[00:10:03.740] You’re basically snakes and and demons in what you’re doing.
[00:10:08.570] But the truth is, in technical marketing and in marketing in general, it is very much about creating a connection between, you know, people value that.
[00:10:19.010] You can bring them what you can give back to them and ultimately, you know, run a sustainable organization and a business commercially through doing so. And what’s particularly interesting about your ability and your success is in doing it so far and in future, which I’m sure will be a lot of. Is doing this in open source. Very much changes because it’s much it’s a different you know, there’s a different commercial side, there’s a different value side.
[00:10:49.030] So I guess that’s the real thing, right? Getting into messaging and positioning fantastically, it is enjoyable, as neat and as challenging and then adding this like what we’re going to do to an open source.
[00:11:00.280] Projects like most would be like, all right, I’m OK, because this is a tough world to be in. Right.
[00:11:07.030] Well, so the first thing to acknowledge is that most engineers, most developers find themselves really allergic to the word marketing. I think for all of the reasons that you just mentioned, that it sort of sounds slightly dirty, and particularly if we’re talking about open source, like open source, it’s not about making money.
[00:11:30.700] So what of course, I’ll just put a caveat that that’s not entirely true. I don’t think that all open source is like completely divorced from money, but a primary function of it is not to do it, however, in order to sustain it.
[00:11:47.110] I know where you’re where you’re at with that one.
[00:11:49.780] So, yeah, I appreciate that you sort of laid that that caveat there, right?
[00:11:55.250] Yeah. So, you know, particularly with companies that I work with, they they’re related often to an open source project, but they also have venture funding. They’re also like their end goal is to build a company, not just to be, you know. Technical hippies. But so I think that’s one of the challenges when we talk about marketing but positioning. So first of all, I should actually step back. One of the misconceptions about positioning is actually that it’s part of marketing and it’s really like it’s a higher level business function.
[00:12:31.910] So, like, if, uh, if a prospect came to me and it was their head of marketing and they said, look, we really need help with positioning, I would say great. Is the CEO on board? Are the founders on board? Are they going to be part of this discussion? And if that marketing person says, no, this is not a project I’m going to take on because it’s going to fail and because positioning is it has implications for your product roadmap.
[00:13:01.940] It has profound implications for your sales strategy. You might end up changing your price point based on your positioning, because if you’re going to sell something, let’s just say you’re going to sell something for financial services. It should be expensive. And if you have if you’re trying to sell something cheap and you’re selling it to a market that expects things for them to be expensive, that’s a problem. So it has all of these implications throughout the business. It’s really not just marketing.
[00:13:38.360] Yeah. And it’s in fact, when you say positioning, it’s not just like we’re positioning and it is truly full market positioning.
[00:13:47.090] And it’s goes, as you said, beyond just like the the thing that does little type head on the website.
[00:13:52.610] When you go to the homepage and you see a little slider like that, that’s reflective of positioning, but that in itself is not positioning.
[00:14:02.060] Yes, that is exactly right. I also have some people that will, like, send me a website and they’re like, can you tell me if this company has great positioning? And I’m like, I don’t know. I mean, you can tell. So if yes, you can usually tell by the website if but if the website if you don’t think that there’s great positioning reflected on the website, that could be a website problem. It could be a copywriting problem.
[00:14:28.550] It’s it could be a positioning problem. But you can’t you can’t really know for sure.
[00:14:33.380] Yeah. Actually there was somebody I spoke with the other day and it was he was telling me about the story of his company. He’s a single engineer with a with a co-founder.
[00:14:42.560] And they’re they’re doing really neat stuff. And so I took a look at the website because he sends me the email address. And so we met just through a friend. I was helping him out and to help him with a technical problem. And so I talk with him.
[00:14:56.300] And I was like, oh, actually, tell me about what your what your platforms do.
[00:15:00.500] And I’m actually very interested in what the problem is you’re solving.
[00:15:04.730] And he said something for like in two minutes he gave me this incredibly profound statement of like, you know, how we have this problem that goes on, like we want to make this not suck for people. So we took on this task because we realized there’s a better way to do it.
[00:15:20.740] And he goes through this thing that was like, Allen, you just totally nailed this. I went to your website.
[00:15:29.120] No idea that this is what you do. Right. You can you need to connect those two things together, because the story you just told me is incredibly compelling. And it made me say, OK, well, how do you do that? Like, it’s it did all the right things. And it was so funny that there can be this weird like sometimes the market, the marketing of the message in the in the website, like said, can really be good.
[00:15:55.030] But, you know, what’s the churn rate, what’s the attach rate? What’s the growth rate like?
[00:16:00.100] There’s other things that you said about positioning is much more than just, oh, that’s really neat. I know what you guys do now. Well, that’s sort of the fundamental, though, about positioning is it’s about making your prospects. Oh, I’m using that word again. That’s all right.
[00:16:16.820] I know I’m going to make you overthink that every day. I know.
[00:16:24.770] So it’s about making everybody not even just prospects. So customers, your current customers, you also don’t want them to be confused. So it’s about reducing confusion. And part of the goal is you want you know, when somebody comes to your Web site, they you want them to immediately understand what problem you’re solving. And how you solve it and is is your solution right for them or not? I know you always remind people like you’re you’re not going to boil the ocean.
[00:16:56.600] You’re a startup with a million dollars or ten million dollars or whatever. You’re you’re not going to you’re not going to be Facebook tomorrow or next quarter. And, you know, you need to focus on some sort of specific market. And so having somebody come to your website and say, oh, I understand what this is and it’s not for me, that is also a good outcome, because now you have not wasted, you know, hours of your marketing and sales team’s time.
[00:17:27.960] On somebody who is never going to buy your your product, that’s so that’s something that people don’t even realize. It’s not as deep positioning.
[00:17:37.200] Your your audience is the most important one of the most important things that you can do. And I forget that sometimes, too, and like you need to immediately.
[00:17:46.080] So when someone gets there, they’re like, yeah, really cool. Not for me. You know, I’m not going to waste this person’s sales cycle time by calling them and saying, hey, I’m curious how this this may work to my use case or whatever. Tell me about the thing you do. And then you spend an hour and they go, yeah, it’s not going to be a fit.
[00:18:02.400] Yep. It’s saving everybody time, you know, it’s saving the prospect time. It’s saving your sales team time. And so that’s a good outcome. If somebody says, no, this isn’t for me, but you want that to be clear as soon as possible in the in the sales cycle or really in the marketing cycle. So it gives you the ability to to focus a lot more. But it also increases the chances that those people that are a good fit are going to understand that immediately.
[00:18:31.940] And so then that that makes them more likely to reach out and so you get this at the same time you have those that are not a good fit leaving. That’s great.
[00:18:43.940] Those that are a good fit, more likely to understand that. Now, this definitely doesn’t come from I think I’m going to be good at this like you, you’ve obviously got some some road time or some, you know, some you’ve got history that allowed you to be able to connect these things together, like there’s certain certain fundamentals of it that are actually based out of like cognitive psychology and behavioral psychology and a lot of neat stuff there.
[00:19:13.430] But you generally can’t go and read a bunch of that and then come forward and say, all right, perfect, OK, I can nail the story for you.
[00:19:20.870] So, Emily, how did you come to choose this as a as a path for your own choice?
[00:19:28.520] That’s a really good question, so I never know where to start in my story yet, but I think I’m going to start sort of way back when, which is, you know, I spent my 20s doing a bunch of random stuff and including starting two companies that never had any any revenue. Like, I think just my mom knew that they existed.
[00:19:49.310] And, um, and then I went to journalism school and then I was a tech journalist for a while. And then I moved into content marketing, and that was really sort of the catalyst for when I started to think a lot more about positioning because, oh, and I should mention that I was always self-employed, so I was always working as a consultant, freelancer. And so that’s kind of just my personality. But anyway, so you’ve always had skin in the game like you.
[00:20:24.100] You’ve you’ve always chosen that I am responsible for the the outcome here, which is it’s a brave thing to do right out of the gate.
[00:20:34.310] Well, you know, I think if somebody when I was in college, when I was like 18, had had told me that I could have a career in sales, I would have changed my life. But it didn’t really even occur to me that, like, there are people that make a living selling stuff. So I enjoy the hustle of of like meeting new clients. And you know that all of the things that are associated with with being a consultant and not having a job I enjoy.
[00:21:05.420] And including not having a boss. Yeah, I think a lot of people I’ve especially here, of course, I’m lucky enough.
[00:21:13.760] I talk to amazing folks like yourself all the time who’ve, like, walked these unique paths and on their own.
[00:21:20.330] And my favorite thing is almost all of them would describe themselves as unemployable because it’s like I am not going to they’re not going to look at the mission on the back of the wall behind the front desk and say, like, this is for me. I’m like, I’ve got my own mission. I got to complete.
[00:21:36.590] Yeah. I mean, I’m not going to say that I would never, ever take a job, but like I would say that my circumstances would have to be pretty dire in order for that to to happen.
[00:21:47.600] But I would find even even in doing so, you would become as we called I describe myself as an intrapreneur in that you create you that drive in that methodology is baked into you.
[00:22:00.350] And so even when you’re in an internal team, you will you will very much go outside the lines as a founder of a function inside a company. So there’s even if you were to go, there would probably be a temporary stint until you got back out again.
[00:22:16.250] Well, fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that. That’s even better. Even better.
[00:22:19.720] Yeah, but actually, so the fact that I was that I was working for a lot of different companies and I started to really focus on the cloud native ecosystem. And technology companies, and so the fact that I was working working as a marketing writer for these these companies is really relevant because first of all, marketing is often the first department that feels the pain of bad positioning. And second of all, when you’re outside of a company working as an external consultant, you see it really well.
[00:22:56.660] Because I think what happens is when you’re when you’re working inside of the company, you can you kind of start drinking the Kool-Aid and it’s like everything kind of makes sense to you because, you know, you’re really like you’re really immersed in everything. And but when you’re looking at it from outside.
[00:23:16.110] And you’re trying to get some direction on this piece of marketing writing, and you’re like, who are we writing this for?
[00:23:22.530] And they’re like, well, you know, our audience is sarees and platform engineers and developers and also VPs of development.
[00:23:31.440] And you’re like, whoa, those people care about very different things, like, how am I going to write this? And so it actually got pretty frustrating because this was so prevalent that people were just not really capable of giving me clear direction, which when it happened, basically meant that my project was not going to be successful and I knew that.
[00:23:57.090] So that’s when I started to think, you know, I can see that this is a problem. I tend to be actually a really big picture person. I think this is why I didn’t do such a great job when I when I was employed and in my very early 20s. I’m not super detail oriented.
[00:24:15.530] So and this is the interesting thing.
[00:24:21.060] And I actually heard a great interview the other day and it talked about the sort of the creative mind and the the process of of being a creative person. They sit.
[00:24:30.340] And when the fellow said, unfortunately, these creative people tend to make a lot of money for other people and not for themselves until it’s far too late for them to enjoy it.
[00:24:39.940] And it’s I’ve I suffered the same sort of challenge of, you know, every year it gets to my annual review and they’re like, hey, you know, be great. Like I’ve got I’m a I work in a startup and they give me a lot of autonomy and they’re fantastic team. And so when it comes to interview time, it’s not like when I worked at a big financial company, they’re like, OK, according to this year, the nine box or the seven boxes, they get all these crazy things.
[00:25:02.640] And then but it would be like every year I’d say, hey, look, it’s that time of year where we say it would be great if you were better at project management and detail oriented, long view, you know, content. I’m like, I’m never going to be that. I’m like, just going to lay that out there right now. I’m never going to be good at this stuff and I’m going to be fantastic what I do. But they’re like, we want to put you in a box.
[00:25:24.630] And like, I’m like, no, no, I don’t want to be there.
[00:25:29.580] You know, it actually, I think makes me fit really well with this industry because a lot of engineers are detailed oriented. Yeah. And so what they at the the ability to step back is really what they’re missing. And most of the founders that I work with, they’re they’re engineers and they’ve now founded a company and they’re really good at like making sure their code is not missing a punctuation mark or something like that. And, uh. I would suck at that.
[00:25:59.540] Yeah, it is a beautiful thing of the merger of those styles because you have you have a technical you understand the technical audience and sort of the buyer audience as well as the consumer audience, you know, or they as they say, you know, the users.
[00:26:15.130] Another word I often cringe that we say, but the users and the buyers.
[00:26:20.290] Yeah, but the it is a really good mix that like you want the technical founder to be a technical founder, not a big picture market maker, like you want them to be fantastic.
[00:26:34.450] What they do and you will be fantastic what you do to allow them to continue to build product and think about what’s next. Yeah, and, you know, honestly, a lot of the founders that I work with, like they they’re not just engineers. They’re very, very good engineers. And these are you know, there are people that have actually and then I’ll go into a caveat sometimes that is also the challenge is that there are very, very good engineers.
[00:27:00.640] And so and they’ve often worked at companies that are very tech forward. They’re very, very far on maturity curves. And so it can be a big challenge. In fact, I think this is a big challenge for the industry in general.
[00:27:18.190] Is it sort of connecting to the real world experience of a mediocre engineer who works at a mediocre or works in, you know, a mediocre technology organization and, you know, mediocre? We often use that word to mean, like, look terrible, but I’m more meaning and sort of an average term. Right.
[00:27:41.470] Radeon a median on a curve, not a mediocre as in they’re not really that good. Which is right. Exactly.
[00:27:48.700] I mean and the honest truth is like that’s somewhere around the medium is is that’s where most people are going to fall. That’s where most users are going to fall. It’s where most buyers are going to fall. Even if we’re like, you know, directors of development or VPs or whatever. Not every one of those VPs isn’t is an amazing VP at his or her job. And not everyone is inside an organization that’s an amazing technology organization. And that’s OK.
[00:28:18.360] I’m I don’t think there’s a problem with that. It’s just that that I think the the ecosystem and the the founders of these amazing startups need to sometimes need to do a better job at sort of stepping back and thinking, OK, where where is the market like where is the market actually at?
[00:28:37.120] Where are the the people that I can help?
[00:28:41.090] Where are they? How do I meet them, where they are and how do I use terms that are going to resonate with them, and what problems are they actually experiencing? Oh, yeah, sorry, go ahead. Oh, I was going to say and then there’s one other thing, which is like what do they actually perceive as being an alternative to my product? So that’s a big part of positioning is what are the competitive alternatives? And the common thing is you ask somebody, what are your competitors?
[00:29:12.920] And they will name another company if you actually drill into it and say, what are the competitive alternatives? The competitive alternatives are doing nothing right? So I know it hurts me to say it, because I know it’s it’s it’s an easy answer, but it is true in that, you know, our biggest competitor is status quo.
[00:29:36.800] You know, it’s so too true. You know, in so many cases, it’s it seems like a like a gimme if you say it. But like, no, it’s most people struggle from just like, hey, this is good enough.
[00:29:48.590] I mean, it’s it’s both both for business buyers, but also for consumers. I mean, I was looking at cars last month and that if you ask a car company like, what’s your competitor, they’ll talk about some other car. I didn’t buy a car. I’m not going to buy a car. And that’s what probably what like most of the people that enter their funnel, so to speak, are going to end up not buying a car. They’re going to do nothing.
[00:30:12.800] Yeah, yeah.
[00:30:14.180] That’s and when it comes to the the technical buyer and the technical economic lead buyer, you know, so like a CIO, CTO, somebody is an organization they’re uniquely challenging to market towards because they are generally, you know, technical.
[00:30:36.830] So they ask harder questions. Well, to use your car example, your more people are going to go to buy a car because they need to get somewhere and they kind of don’t care what’s inside the car. They just want it to be the right price. They’ve got a certain set of criteria.
[00:30:55.390] The ineffective alternatives are the bus not having a car.
[00:30:59.570] There’s it’s but the buyer is most often not technical. And in fact, when we get into the technical marketing piece and technical competence, you know, positioning is the worst case scenario of super technical people.
[00:31:18.880] They’re like, what does it do here?
[00:31:20.320] You know, it’s that whole thing of I don’t want to dwell on speeds and feeds, but we’re going to dwell for 45 minutes on speeds and feeds, you know, and all these little, you know, knobs and dials on on what it can do.
[00:31:32.530] Yeah. So to go back to the car example, that’s actually really good. So when you’re doing technical marketing, one of your biggest competitors is built to build it yourself DIY. So instead of buying your thing, we’re going to build a platform. And ourselves, if you’re buying a car, like quite frankly, I do not think that one of your competitors is like like I wasn’t even thinking like, oh, well, you know, I’ll just build a car myself.
[00:32:01.420] I say, and I don’t think that that’s like a real realistic competitor for most people. Yeah.
[00:32:09.430] But it is in the technical marketing that that’s a really big, major competitive alternative. Yeah.
[00:32:18.160] And we we run into that problem, too, of especially when you’ve got a really good engineering organization and we it’s the problem we call nature not invented here. Right. When you go do you pitch a product then they’re like.
[00:32:31.170] You know, they just like you can see them sort of squinting as they’re listening to your discussion and they look at the ingenuity and said. Can we do something pretty close to this ourselves, like, oh, no, like that that is a real unfortunate confidence in the ability to throw people at it. And I’m like, if you’ve not heard of the mythical man month, this is going to end poorly for you.
[00:32:54.620] Yep. And, you know, it’s that’s also the the user user buyer discussion, because sometimes this like whatever it is that you’re selling like that looks like a really interesting problem to solve. And if you’re if you’re targeting the wrong level in an organization, you you know, you’re just going to be giving them an idea and they’re going to think, gosh, I would rather spend the next six months working on replicating your product internally than doing whatever it is that I’m that I’m doing.
[00:33:30.110] That’s usually when you’re you’re marketing too low, because most likely once you’re once you’re getting to the people that have more of like a more business metrics that they care about. And they’re they’re managing people. They do not want the people on their team building that platform that is not in their best interest, but the people that the engineers themselves. Oh, yeah. That that’s a big problem. They want to spend some time building that.
[00:33:56.000] It it’s funny. You can you often find out it’s like going to family therapy when you’re in these discussions with folks. And I get I’m lucky to be very close to the customer experience all the time. And it’s like I was a user.
[00:34:08.210] I sat in the desk as a systems architect for a couple of decades, so I know the pain directly. It’s easier for me to relate it when I talk about product and outcomes and what we get.
[00:34:20.150] And it’s funny that you can get a lot of folks that are really strong technical champions and they have a genuine day to day problem that maybe their boss doesn’t know about.
[00:34:29.690] And that gets uncovered like beautifully in the right conversation because and you need that as to do proper positioning and selling and renewing, because if you only give value to the user of the consumer, the product, and they don’t see the KPIs being effective, affected at the top, then they’re like, you know, I don’t I don’t know that I’m getting value from this thing I just saw a renewal for.
[00:34:56.840] And it’s like you said, positioning isn’t just about prospects, it’s about your existing customers.
[00:35:03.350] You got to keep reminding them that you’ve got value or even adding more value and more capabilities. And how do you relate those?
[00:35:11.680] Yeah, and, you know, part of positioning it, some of the things that that we work on narrowing down is who is the right buyer? So, again, when you think of an engineering organization, it’s not like homogenous. There’s going to be the salary teams. We like to talk about breaking down silos. And in reality, there’s still silos in most places. So, you know, unless unless you’re selling to like the CTO who’s responsible for the whole thing, there’s going to be silos.
[00:35:41.200] And and most of my clients are not going quite that high level. Yeah.
[00:35:46.930] And and this is the funny part is as much as I see that silo slide on everybody’s sales deck, guilty as charged, we know the truth is that there’s just no way to really break those things down. The reason why we had to start calling it like dev spec ops, they’re like, why do you need to explicitly say second line? Because no one invited security to the party and it wasn’t pervasive to the flow of of code. And they’re like, oh, OK.
[00:36:14.320] You know, Nelson, someone described the other day, they called it biz dev sec ups. And like, we’ve officially figured it out that we forgot to include the business people in the discussion.
[00:36:25.510] I have not heard that one yet and I love it.
[00:36:28.330] So now eventually it’s going to become this like biz dev sec, you know, like there’ll be like three or six trade offs.
[00:36:38.590] But so, yeah, in practice now this is just like you talked about positioning.
[00:36:48.050] It’s important to know who not to position for into position the the the unimportant or the the the not valuable prospect.
[00:36:59.000] In your experience of doing this stuff. Most of your success in knowing what to do probably comes from seeing a lot of what not to do and and seeing metrics that showed that that was the case.
[00:37:12.940] I’m curious, Emily. When did you start to tie in? How do I measure the effectiveness of positioning and marketing and like where this comes together? Yeah, that’s that’s a really good question of how it’s measured. So the first thing. Yeah. Position is interesting to measure. So you’re not going to feel like you’re not going to improve your positioning and then tomorrow you’re going to fix these things. So often we’re talking about like a fairly fundamental shift in how the company is.
[00:37:49.280] Talking about itself and operating, so we’re not going to see, like a change tomorrow, but there are there are some things that will change immediately and then there are metrics that you should see improvement on if, in fact, your your positioning has been improved.
[00:38:08.270] So that the first result is this is a human one, is that I find founders have more confidence because often the pain point that they come to me with is that they don’t know how to talk about their their company. They don’t know how to talk about their product. And it’s frustrating. And they. And they feel like they’re their sales calls are kind of they feel like they’re not going great.
[00:38:38.750] Basically, they feel like the first 15 minutes, the prospects are confused and and it’s really frustrating. So that does change immediately is there’s there’s often a shift in sort of how the confident the founder or founders feels and sort of having a discussion or or describing. So after positioning, you should be able to describe your your product in like less than a sentence, like five words. Yeah. And so that’s the first change. And then the second thing this gets into, like, what are the signs that you’re positioning kind of sucks.
[00:39:15.170] And then then obviously if your positioning is better, it’s going to you’re going to see improvement on those metrics. So one of them is high churn at like everywhere on the funnel. And so if you have a lot of people coming to your website, but like every every part of your funnel, there’s it’s just incredibly leaky. That’s probably a positioning issue. If you have a lot of churn in your customers, that’s probably a sign that the customers maybe thought they were going to get something else.
[00:39:51.080] And then they signed up and they were like, oh, whoops, this is not actually what I was expecting. I don’t actually need it. That’s a positioning problem. Right? You want people to, like, actually get the thing that they thought they were getting. So basically, you should be improving your your conversion rates at all. All spaces on the funnel, the marketing sales funnel, you should see lower customer churn. And those are what I would say, I mean, and ultimately, right, those are going to lead to better revenue numbers, et cetera, but those those are the really bottom line positions and metrics that I would look at.
[00:40:34.520] And here we have like the sort of problem is that those are marketing metrics and that’s why people think that positioning is a marketing problem. Right. And but right. If you have a high customer churn, maybe your product sucks.
[00:40:52.450] Oh, yeah.
[00:40:53.870] It could be a problem or it sucks for the people who actually end up buying it. And so it really isn’t just marketing, it’s really high level. Another thing that I also see with the win positioning projects are really successful is that it’s easier to get. It’s the PR is easier. It’s easier to get it in the press. Because the you know, whether you’re doing PR yourself, whether you’ve hired a team, it’s it’s easier for them to communicate with other people in the industry about what you do and and that that makes it easier for them to write about in the the challenges as people, as humans, especially in technical.
[00:41:35.660] You know, we’ve got a lot of strong technical founders.
[00:41:39.590] Like you said.
[00:41:40.190] It’s it’s a tough it’s not in their brain to like they’re not built to be able to tell the story in. That’s why we always talk about jobs and Bosniac and people get really irked and angry like jobs wasn’t technical and it was just a marketing guy and like, well, it was technical. It didn’t necessarily write the code.
[00:41:59.000] But, you know, he had the ability to take the technology and relate the story and and he even attributes he says. The ability to do so wasn’t just from fantastic storytelling, which he was particularly good at, but he has this book and I actually have it on my shelf.
[00:42:16.470] I had to hunt it down around the world called the business value of computers.
[00:42:20.820] And it was effectively an accounting guide into how to actually measure the effectiveness of using computer systems in large organizations.
[00:42:29.970] This is like mainframe type of of adoption. But he said if you can’t. Show them that there’s metrics that they’re going to that are going to matter to them and then a human side to that story. Then, you know, technology is going to save you from a bad sales problem, which is which.
[00:42:47.840] And as technology founders said, so you come in there and do a lot of amazing technologies, probably wouldn’t pass a Turing test.
[00:42:55.700] There’s nothing wrong with them having an incredible amount of skill. So let’s put somebody beside them who gets why they’re doing it and what they’re doing it, and then can make that a storytelling exercise, which then ultimately becomes. Based on the foundation of positioning, like you said, it’s it has to come from there. This is the the core and then everything should always go back to like, ah, OK, here’s your value drivers or whatever you call them.
[00:43:23.090] But like, it’s it’s in the founders. There’s a great book actually called The Founders Mentality. And and it’s a it’s actually by being in company, they’re a marketing and advisory firm in in Boston.
[00:43:39.410] Not to be confused with Bain Capital, which is always funny because I my company, as well as one of one of the Bain Capital companies. But it’s very, very cool that they talk about this idea of like the founder can get frustrated because they see the selling position moving away from what the product was meant to do, and then they lose track of it and then the numbers start to go home.
[00:44:02.420] And what’s worse is that it doesn’t get felt like you said, you know, you change your positioning and you do it right today. You don’t notice it tomorrow, the metrics are going to play out over time. Yeah, and it can be pretty quick and then the other thing, so there’s there’s a couple comments here.
[00:44:24.580] It’s a first of all, it can be a pretty quick I mean, if you actually implement your positioning, you can feel it pretty quickly, but it’s not going to Beechboro. And the the other thing is that almost always the the best positioning for your product isn’t necessarily be it the positioning that you had in mind when you created it. And that that is why actually that’s part of why founders have to be involved when we do a positioning exercise, because it can involve almost like shifting, shifting the identity of the company.
[00:45:01.300] And if it’s that could mean shifting the identity of the founders. And so that’s the most challenging part actually of of positioning is is like having everybody sort of let go of what they thought they were creating and then figuring out like what is the thing that actually is here that was created and how do we highlight its strengths in a way that that that’s that’s going to get customers really excited about it.
[00:45:33.350] And positioning it can change over time, it’s not something you want to change like every month, but you should sort of check in to check in with it like once a year, once every six months to see if it’s still working. And, you know, one of the the other thing is like if there’s a big market shift. So, for example, covid-19, there was and everyone’s working from home that can present certain challenges to to organizations. And maybe, you know, maybe you want to reposition your thing some maybe the competitive alternative to your product is walking over to your colleagues office.
[00:46:15.260] Well, that’s not an option anymore. And so you need to be able to to sort of capture that.
[00:46:21.690] Oh, there’s a last thing I wanted to say, which is that actually Apple is a really good example of good positioning and there’s a lot I can think of a lot of ways. First of all, when in the early days of Apple computers, it was not a general purpose, personal computer. It was for creatives. Right. And this and that ultimately is how Apple computers became like the cool version. Right. Like, if you were an accountant, you got a you didn’t get an apple.
[00:46:54.240] If you were like a graphic designer, you definitely got an Apple computer. And that had ramifications, obviously, not just for their marketing, but but it was their product was also different. And it had to focus on different types of functionality. And then when the iPhone launched. So think about the name of iPhone. An iPhone is actually not really a phone like it does have phone functionality, but that’s like a tiny little bit of of its functionality.
[00:47:25.260] But at the time that it launched that like that was what the company and Steve Jobs decided to accentuate, because that was something that that people associated with, like putting in their pocket and taking places.
[00:47:40.770] Imagine if they had called it like the eye pocket computer or something crappy. Yeah.
[00:47:48.510] And and in fact, actually, if you watch the iPhone launch video, like. Tobes, does all this like talking about voicemail and like call for, like all this stuff that’s phone functionality that like nobody uses now and probably nobody even used then, but it reinforced this position of this is a phone. And so it makes sense. It makes sense as a product to to me. Yeah.
[00:48:14.010] It becomes the what’s the what’s the comparative that will make sense to people then they can they can map it over.
[00:48:21.150] And this I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. The words and in that we use are interesting. And I get lessons in this all the time.
[00:48:32.910] So, you know, the founder of my organization, he used to like super technical.
[00:48:39.810] He’s like really, really able to do incredible things but knows the business, you know, third time founder, like, really, really got a good sense of how things go and people kind of forget how strong is the business side of it.
[00:48:54.090] And so you get people know, like he’s like this is what we do. And this is, you know, you go through the whole thing.
[00:48:59.520] But in the end, we as humans try and find differentiating words to make it easier to explain or sell.
[00:49:07.020] And so people always say, like, we solved this problem in a unique way. And he he stops. He goes and he asks his name was my favorite thing to hear. He goes, Can I ask you? Where did you have a lot of friends when you were a kid and so like, yeah, yeah, I was I was fairly fairly popular, whatever, like, OK, and so high school, you know, throughout changes in your life.
[00:49:30.380] OK, what were you unique? And you’re like, what do you mean? He goes, exactly? You were not popular because you were unique, you were not smarter because you were unique, unique isn’t a word that you want to use to describe your problem is a differentiating feature is like it may be unique in the way that it solves the problem, but the product is not unique.
[00:49:55.390] Like don’t use words like that because they’re going to pull you down a trap and they’ll say everybody says the unique. Everyone says they’re the first to market. Everyone says they’re industry leading. It’s like these are these are not important words when it comes to what we’re actually doing.
[00:50:12.060] So. Why do we get caught up in those lovely words, Emily, because they sound fine, like it’s easy to go to. Yeah, I think that you’re right, you know, it’s part of it is that we we want to be unique and I think people like to think of their product as being totally unique. And it is it’s usually there’s there’s not something that is exactly like that thing anywhere. Of course, nobody cares if you solve their problem in a unique way.
[00:50:42.070] They just want it solved. They don’t care how you do it. That’s right.
[00:50:44.830] And if you solve it in a way that’s totally non-unique, it’s still solved. And the other thing I was going to say, actually, is that this is relevant to the discussion of developer marketing because developers, engineers, they tend to have a lower bullshit tolerance than a lot of other markets. And so I think you’re probably more likely to get that pushback when you’re like we have a you know, we have a unique way of solving this problem. I think there that’s going to sound like bullshit.
[00:51:18.540] That’s going to pop out as bullshit for I can already hear the person they were going like, you know, like make like shirts, unique, whatever.
[00:51:27.480] I mean, then they’re going to they’re going to look through the like eight million open source projects on GitHub. And they’re going to say like, no, no, I found this other this project that has like two contributors and it’s actually exactly the same as yours.
[00:51:40.350] So even patented is a tough one because like, well, it is a very different thing, a very specific thing about the way and you solve the problem, like just saying patented.
[00:51:50.670] I’ve even found that in competitive.
[00:51:52.200] It’s like use this like we have 17 patents in as a competitive alternative. Like, you know, the company you’re competing with has 2000 patents. They were like, that is not a that’s not a business differentiator. You know, it shows your longevity. It shows your uniqueness in a way. But like IBM has more patents. And what’s the old joke? Right. Like how many the most patents in the world are for the most trappe go to the hardware store.
[00:52:17.340] Yeah, most trap’s a piece of wood with a spring on it.
[00:52:20.670] I don’t care how many patents there are, I just need to catch a bloody mouse, you know?
[00:52:26.550] And sometimes, like, you know, I think it’s important to keep in mind that you are ultimately selling an outcome. You’re you’re solving the problem. And, you know, if you if you get a taxi and you want to go to your house from you know, your work sets a route that you go all the time, you get a taxi and the taxi driver says, hey, look, I’m going to take you a totally unique way to get to your house.
[00:52:51.780] You’re going to be like, whoa, that does not sound good.
[00:52:54.240] Has actually. Now, the other thing that’s important. In what you’ve described in like positioning, and it ultimately is a question for you, you know, it’s choosing your market, attacking a niche that, you know, you can be effective in and you know how to market towards you as well as, you know, really lived strongly in initiative of companies in this cloud native marketplace, which is going to become huge.
[00:53:24.030] You know, I mean, already is huge. But what drew you to. How that is an effective place for you to be able to market towards and position towards, yeah, this is a great question also because I wanted to talk a little bit about how it’s not just products that are positioned and it’s not even just consultants who are positioned. It’s even if you have a job, you it’s it’s still a good idea to be known for something and to be a specialist in something.
[00:53:53.370] And even if you are a developer. Right, maybe you’re a specialist in a particular language, maybe you’re a specialist in a particular type of business. So I think that it’s really important for for everybody to to try to specialize to a certain extent. And when I think about what what a consultant or even somebody who’s going to be an employee should or should think should think about as they’re positioning themselves is where the overlap is between things that they are good at, things that they enjoy and things that people are willing to pay money for.
[00:54:37.620] And the same goes with industry. Right. You could apply that to what you do or you could apply it to the industry that you’re going to work in. And for me, obviously, like I have tons of interests. And either that being a positioning consultant is not the only thing that I think I’m pretty good at.
[00:54:58.920] But and but there’s this this sort of overlap here where working in this industry and it helps that I started obviously I started as a marketing writer in this industry, there’s sort of an overlap of people that actually need this and are willing to pay money for it and that I’m that I’m good at it in terms of why I think I’ll go back to the discussion of not being very detail oriented. So I was actually interested in like Web development, and I played around with Drupal for a while in my in my 20s.
[00:55:34.740] I don’t know if you know Drupal, but it’s like we’re spending a little time in that.
[00:55:38.290] It was it was the the it was the Beda to WordPress VHS. It was technically better, but unfortunately not marketed well enough to to make a big landing. I actually don’t think that’s true, I think one of the most successful open source projects out there in Aquia that was Akwe is that was founded by the open source maintainer. It was sold, I don’t know to who, but for like two billion dollars, like a totally insane amount of money.
[00:56:08.350] So actually, Drew is an open space, open source success story and a lot of ways because all sides huge community.
[00:56:14.920] Anyway, my point being, it’s not like an entry level web development platform. It’s quite complicated. It’s very it’s very powerful. But it’s a you really need to be like getting your hands in the code in order to be successful with it. So I like, you know, I taught my self how to do some stuff, but I ultimately like I I’d miss a period somewhere and it wouldn’t work. And I just get really frustrated and yeah. That it just wasn’t for me I couldn’t deal with, like, I, you know, I missed a piece of punctuation and my work is a total failure.
[00:56:50.020] And I think but I sort of remained interested in this, this sort of the technology field in general and what we can do with with software.
[00:56:59.290] And and then I think there’s like there’s a little bit of a cultural fit. Even if I’m not I’m not the detail oriented engineer. I think there’s a there’s a cultural fit between the, um, sort of like it’s really hard for me to put my finger on what the cultural fit is.
[00:57:17.920] Um, let me think about this for a minute.
[00:57:21.490] I think I just I feel like it’s really easy for me to empathize with the sort of developer problem or the developer personality of, like, liking to work alone consultant, freelancer, being, you know, really interested in like finishing projects, being a little bit type A. And so I think that there was that as well, sort of being interested in the technology and then just feeling like like it’s a cultural fit. Yeah, like when I went to Cube Khan there was Cube Khan and then there was like an accounting conference that was in the same location.
[00:57:55.990] And I just like you looked at all the accountants and I was like, whoa, those are not my people. I do not know there.
[00:58:03.220] It’s so funny that I’ve I’ve always enjoyed when you go to especially a conference center and there’s like multiple things and, you know, like, you know, we’re sitting here and we’re making nerd jokes about technology, then, you know, in the room next door, they’re like, so this idiot filled out a ten, twenty nine instead of a four to twenty eight, like, holy moly, where did this guy from Mars, like in totally meaningful, hilarious anecdotal humor over there.
[00:58:28.930] But it’s like every, every industry, every thing has a community and has its own nuances and isms about it.
[00:58:37.510] But what actually I want to pull on the string that, you know, you hit something really neat. So my perception in general awareness is that WordPress has been, I’ll say, most known to be successful relative to Drupal.
[00:58:56.860] And it comes from two factors. One, I didn’t track the growth or ultimately the the the trajectory of Drupal. I knew about it.
[00:59:05.470] But because I go everywhere and I see WordPress, I have a perceived understanding that it is more successful, even though it may not be in this. I bump into in Carbonetti folks all the time. They’re like, this is incredible. It’s like winning the container war. So that’s well, how big is that war? Right.
[00:59:22.210] You know, relative to virtualization and cloud and everything else. So. How? How do you deal with that situation when someone says like, no, like this is the the metric that matters to me or this is my opinion of a metric and you’re like. Well, we actually have to look at the real metric that matters. I mean, ultimately, like you do get to decide if so if you’re the CEO of a company and you decide that X metrics matters to you.
[00:59:51.390] I mean, maybe that’s the most important metric, I mean, maybe I don’t agree with it, maybe your investors don’t agree with it, but that that is one of one of the advantages of being CEO, is you get to focus on the metrics that you think matter to you and does it. But, you know, some some companies might get really hung up on like we have the biggest number of users and GitHub stars, are we?
[01:00:20.820] We have to get them stars and like those GitHub stars, they’re free. So, you know, what do I think that a company should probably have like some hard dollars as a as a metric? Yeah, definitely. But, um, if if you think, you know, if you are the CEO and you’re getting really hung up on some other metric, like, that’s OK. You know, I think the thing that that people should take out of this this discussion about WordPress and Drupal is.
[01:00:52.790] That just because you are not necessarily a household name or you’re not like, you know, a household name for four, Technologist’s doesn’t mean that you don’t have a successful company, that you can have a very successful company.
[01:01:09.230] You can you could go public. You could, you know, have a giant exit or you could just run your very successful company.
[01:01:20.420] You can make tons of money and people could think, oh, Drupal is just, you know, it’s a a failed competitor to WordPress and ultimately, like, it doesn’t it doesn’t really matter.
[01:01:33.260] Like, maybe you were never in a position where a Drupal word Drupal made sense. And so you might think that this is why I started using Drupal, because I erroneously thought it would be a good idea for for just a random person setting up a website. It’s not WordPress is the best option for that. If you have a really complicated Web site, that’s where Drupal is appropriate.
[01:01:56.720] And so that’s why you see like like university Web sites are like big organizations like the U.S. government, Web sites, places like that. Those are the ones that use Drupal. And so and, you know, they have like all this super complex functionality. But that means ultimately that they don’t become a household name because they are only they have a relatively they have a niche, but it’s huge, right?
[01:02:23.700] It can still let them be acquired for two billion dollars. I think it was two billion dollars. That might be wrong about that. It was huge.
[01:02:30.120] Yeah, but it’s and it’s interesting, too. Yeah.
[01:02:32.400] Like you, we I see this positioning in marketing as well as like the careful thing of, you know, what is it if you say it’s for creating websites like you’re going to have a real tough road. You know, if you say it’s it’s an enterprise grade CMW based on the most widely adopted and broad open source ecosystem, we’re like, oh, OK, cool.
[01:02:58.470] So a legitimate CM’s now I know it’s a different use case and they start to then map the use cases in their mind of like oh versus yeah I want to go set up so I don’t want to go to Wick’s and set up my website, you know, let WordPress looks like it may work for me.
[01:03:13.380] OK, yeah. Drupal is not the thing that you just like set up on Blue Host and start your personal blog on the thing. But yeah, for the the more complex setups that it is. And so in the startups that I often work out there, they also get really hung up on this. And then you ask like, so how many, how many customers do you want to sign this quarter?
[01:03:34.680] And they’re like five. And you’re like so far, like, that’s not very many. I mean, you don’t have to go after a huge market in order to to sign five.
[01:03:47.670] Yeah, this is not time to be buying mailing lists. You’ve you’ve got a fairly niche area. What’s the with the flow is going to be much different.
[01:03:55.860] Right. And you’ll end up being much more likely to hit that five if you’re going after a market that only has five hundred people in it because you can speak directly to them and they’re going to listen. Whereas if you know you’re going after like a five million people, I mean, how do you even like.
[01:04:15.730] No, you don’t. You’re not people are going to ignore you.
[01:04:18.960] That’s that’s when they think that you’re a spammer. But if you speak directly to their their needs and, you know, like.
[01:04:28.580] Salaries and financial services institutions like you. Oh, OK, yeah, that’s me.
[01:04:35.750] Now this will be interesting, too, because you’ve got a good background in you. You you came from tech journalism and you’ve you’ve obviously got some really good strength and you’re fantastic writer. By the way, I read a disturbing amount of your content in preparation for our discussion and listening to a lot of your podcasts.
[01:04:53.690] So I had the easiest job of coming into this hour. I was like, Emily is going to be able to run on anything. This is fantastic.
[01:05:01.790] But I’m curious on your thought on what the role is of journalism, you know, literally today relative to when you were in it versus like it was very different in like PR went to certain, you know, key journals.
[01:05:17.900] And then you got I think now it’s I just find so different. I’m curious, as somebody who lived in the inside, what’s your sense of the place of tech journalism today? Right, oh, I was about journalism in general, I was going to say I’m super cynical, as most journalists probably are.
[01:05:37.460] Yeah, but I’m actually less cynical about tech journalism. So I actually have two degrees in journalism from Columbia, another one from a university in France and a journalist I approached very differently in Europe because I’m talking about sort of general interest journalism, because in general, in the US journalism journalists are encouraged to like claim to be totally neutral on everything, which I happen to think is bogus because we’re all human beings and we all have opinions. Yeah, in Europe, that is not how journalists operate.
[01:06:18.740] It’s not how news organizations operate. So you would have like a newspaper and this is the newspaper of the left or this is the newspaper of the Catholic Church. And they they don’t pretend that they’re totally neutral.
[01:06:34.190] So this relates to tech journalism, because I think my my less cynical ness about tech journalism is that in general, I think tech journalists are more like that.
[01:06:47.240] So they’re more they’re a little bit more open about, you know, where we take money from these companies, for example, these are advertisers.
[01:06:58.310] It’s it’s very it’s very clear. And I think what I do want to say about about tech journalism in general, and I’m not actually totally out of tech journalism, so I write for the new stack and I do so in a in a journalist capacity.
[01:07:14.390] And one of the reasons that I do is because it I learn so much.
[01:07:19.910] And I think the biggest misunderstanding among founders about tech journalism is that that the journalists who cover technology and who who cover particularly like opensource cloud, native stuff like that, they are really knowledgeable and they understand the ecosystem. Honestly, I think that they understand it better than anybody else because this is their their job is to talk to people from everywhere, to talk to end users, to talk to all the different vendors, to talk to the super big guys, to talk to the super little guys, to talk to investors.
[01:07:59.470] So they are they are really knowledgeable and yeah, speaking of like the no bullshit theme, journalists also tend to be like pretty no bullshit. But definitely when you talk to a tech journalist, like they they’re able to spot the bullshit like really easily. And the not just they might not spot like if you if there’s, like, something in your technology that doesn’t work, like they’re not generally engineers themselves, they won’t get that. But if there’s something about your business or your messaging that doesn’t make sense, they will definitely pick up on that.
[01:08:36.520] I as somebody who’s had to do the dance of, you know, going into PR and like going out and doing launches and interviews, it’s so funny because I’ve and one fellow I always enjoyed chatting with and it was painful every time Simon Sharwood, he worked for the register or he wrote for the rest of these independents as well.
[01:08:58.120] And yeah, I remember going to one time and we changed the version number of the product and it was like this.
[01:09:04.240] It’s like a fairly small thing, but it went from like five nine to six zero.
[01:09:10.690] And, you know, he says, so why is the six to eight zero? And I didn’t really know the right way to tell them because five, we ran out of numbers and like, this must be what I’m like.
[01:09:23.530] I knew the implication of a major no change. I was like, oh, Sirene, you’re going to make me say this stuff that it just happened, that we ran out, that we couldn’t be five. But and my engineering team were like, we’ll make it five, ten. And like, you know, that’s five one five one zero five times, not five, ten.
[01:09:41.650] There’s no five. Ten.
[01:09:44.470] But that was that, you know, Simon just said it’s he’s like, I’m I want to get right to this. What matters? Why is this a zero? And I was like, oh, cool. You know, so he picked up that as a customer. They’re going to see like, oh, this is a major release. This is going to be a significant change. Tell me why. And it was neat. And Alex and the team from the new stack up and a huge fan of that of the whole organization from the start.
[01:10:09.580] So it was like a glory day when I went to I presented on Carbonetti at the Open Stack conference in Boston. And and there was a fellow just like chuckling away in the front during my presentation, I was like, all right, I feel like I’m doing good. Like I’m engaging the audience. And then I saw the ad, the article the next day in the new stack and I was in there.
[01:10:30.130] I’m like, yeah, I feel like I hear that I made the news.
[01:10:33.780] But Alex has done a fantastic job of going from purely independent writers, talking about technology in an ecosystem that he and his team cared about to be able to cross the chasm to being commercially viable, but maintaining journalistic, you know, integrity. So it’s very clear this is a sponsored post, but maintains that very good content in a sponsored post. He doesn’t let it become a commercial. And I think that’s where, like you said, there’s a no B.S. factor of like I’m not just going to let you come in and say, you know, what would make this drink better if it was built by this company, you know, on this technology, like, there’s no room for that.
[01:11:18.040] And Alex and his and the new stack are a great example of folks that. Make sure they keep that nice hard line. Yeah, definitely, and you’re right on, I think, you know, tech journalists, they and this is where positioning comes in. I mean, that you really want to, like, tell them what the value is like. Why does this matter? And it’s you know, unfortunately, it’s a thing that I think a lot of companies get wrong because they they’ll send an email.
[01:11:46.200] We’re releasing a new version and its version, you know, six point one point three point five. And it’s I’m like, I don’t care why I should care.
[01:11:58.540] And the fun part is, of course, because you have to pass out an hour conversation or a 20 minute conversation and then get it to a few meaningful bytes that matter.
[01:12:06.670] And I remember it also. It’s fun. Beth Parisotto, she’s also a great writer. And and I talked with her for like an hour on Carbonetti stuff. And we go through this whole thing into the end.
[01:12:16.600] The quote that comes in the article was like, Carbonetti is on virtual machines is like a gateway drug to Cubanos on bare metal.
[01:12:22.800] I like you say it almost as a throwaway, but you’ve got to remember when microphones are on, everything’s live and everything’s on the record. And it was it was fine. Like I said it for a reason. It was it wasn’t meant to be like, I hope she doesn’t write this, but every once in a while I’ll say something.
[01:12:38.380] And then my my PR team, you see their eyes go their eyes wide, not be like, oh, did I just say something that like hopefully they don’t catch that quote in there.
[01:12:49.980] But in journalism school, when I took classes in radio, they would say, like, you never turn off your mic. You would say, like, OK, we’re done.
[01:12:58.780] You’d like take off your headphones, but you would keep your mike because people would always say, like the the interesting or sometimes incriminating thing when they erroneously assume that your mic was your recorder was not running.
[01:13:15.850] Yeah, I tell you, that’s and I’ve always got an incredible respect for the true art of journalism, you know, and in that thing of like, yo, are we off the record?
[01:13:25.720] And it’s the whole like when I read more and like like delved into how that works and the idea of deep background and how it’s like there’s so much to real journalism that unfortunately is is just shaded by what we call media and that it’s really been broken.
[01:13:48.190] But the real true journalists, you know, the journalists out there and the principles and practice of it are are fantastic and so necessary.
[01:13:58.450] But, you know, the world has kind of shifted in a weird way of, you know, it becomes, you know, see the twenty three things that his gym trainer would doesn’t want you to hear about AB exercises or whatever.
[01:14:08.800] Like it becomes this weird Outbrain articles that are on mainstream media sites and it gets really lost in the power and importance of that journalism.
[01:14:18.520] And I think possibly another reason why I’m so interested in positioning, actually, is that journalists specialize. And this to an extent that, for example, developers generally don’t like developer developers, I think often make the mistake of thinking I’m a developer and I write software and I could work at any company and it doesn’t matter what industry and whatever.
[01:14:42.790] So journalists almost always specialize in something. And you want this because their job is to explain, to know what’s important and what isn’t and to really understand, you know, a particular subject. So, yeah. So I have always thought that it’s really important to to really be a specialist and in something and and that applies to products too.
[01:15:07.000] Yeah. It’s and it’s funny if you look at it, I mean it’s positioning, it’s positioning in every way. Right.
[01:15:15.010] Are you going to write for illusional or lemonde like which is the one you very distinct audiences, very specific demographics if you’re not aware and then same as developer like sure, you can be a you know, a journey person developer who can do write fantastic code and do all that stuff.
[01:15:32.530] But if you’re if you want to be specialized, if you want to really succeed, it’s about knowing how to map it to business requirements, how to relate it.
[01:15:41.560] How do you engage with customers as you’re building features and exploring stuff and user experience?
[01:15:47.650] There is much more that requires that knowing your customer and you know, it’s effectively positioning of everything.
[01:15:55.390] Yep, exactly.
[01:15:57.280] Oh, this is I could talk to you all day and this has been fantastic. And I want to thank you very much.
[01:16:03.430] And for folks that do want to connect with you through various means, of course, I’ll all have the link to your website. You can go to Emily Omeir dot com and what’s the best way if they want to do engage with you on on social media and also plus, go check out Emily’s podcast and and your blog said.
[01:16:21.560] Great writer, if you just if you search for Emily Omeir, there’s a wealth of content that comes up on Google because you’re a very prolific creator and it shows in in how well you approach this. You’re everything you do.
[01:16:35.280] Yeah. So let’s see. So my podcast is called The Business of Collaborative. And the goal is to sort of interrogate why companies use cloud native technology, what end users say, what people in the ecosystem say, etc. And you can go to the business of cloud native dotcom and actually redirect you to my website. But it’s if you have trouble spelling my last name and also my blog positioning open source, you can go to positioning open source dotcom that will send you in the right direction.
[01:17:10.230] I am pretty active on LinkedIn and unless you send me like a spammy connection request, I will probably accept it. And so, yeah, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. One of my goals for this year is to set up and be active on Twitter. I think I have an account, but I am not sure.
[01:17:32.560] So yeah, but my, my LinkedIn, I always, I always enjoy when somebody because I have an open policy I set up on LinkedIn because I also I use it as a broadcast channel. So a lot of stuff goes out in there. So I’m like, you feel bad. I’m like, hey by the way, I’m accepting your connection, but you just became my audience and but you know somebody you’ll get that inbound.
[01:17:55.200] And I just look at the like the title or, you know, what the company is. I’m like, guys, I know what’s coming. You hit accept. And then like nine minutes later, you know, hey, thanks for connecting.
[01:18:07.200] You know, one of the challenges that people face is being able to write good whiteboard videos on their product and we solve that problem.
[01:18:14.280] And I’m like, OK, I’m going to make a whiteboard video to reply to these people on how to do better prospecting.
[01:18:21.760] Yeah, a lot of people make the a lot of the spammy types. I think they make the assumption that I, like, work inside a company. And so they’ll talk to me about, like managing my team or something that I might do. This is this is not this is actually not a problem that I have as an expert operating cloud native environments.
[01:18:43.710] You clearly know. Exactly. Exactly.
[01:18:47.820] And I know you probably get this thing if you’ve ever seen the movie Boiler Room, it’s it’s one of the scenes this fellows like this crazy, you know, aggressive sales person, he learns these techniques and someone calls from The New York Times like, how can I would you like a subscription to The New York Times?
[01:19:05.550] And he’s like, No, thanks, I’m good.
[01:19:07.350] I get the post, whatever. And they’re like, OK, thank you for your day.
[01:19:10.650] And he goes, well, that’s it. And and he then goes for like twenty minutes, like schooling them. Like you got to go for the clothes, like ask for their business, you got to do this like entice them. What do they really want. Do you want the post. You want this. Do you, what do you want to light up your days like. And the guy gets all fired up. He goes excellent. He goes so it’s like a script, you know.
[01:19:29.220] But when someone pitches you, you almost want to reply like, OK, do I need to coach you how to do this?
[01:19:36.030] Like we can. You can do better. I’m disappointed. Yeah.
[01:19:40.770] So to go on a personal tangent, I’m getting certified to be a foster parent and the as like a marketer or I guess I’m not really a marketer anymore. But anyway, there’s this like it’s a bazillion step process, but I’m always like, oh, you guys need to work on your funnel and no wonder you have no foster parents like, oh my God, it is it’s really wild.
[01:20:07.050] And and thank you for doing that. That’s a really noble thing.
[01:20:11.220] You know, it’s something that we it’s a it’s not often understood the impact it can have and and how difficult it is to start the process.
[01:20:21.480] You know, people just think like, oh, you just, you know, go sign a form and do it like, no, this is not an easy thing. There’s no license to have kids. Fact. It’s it it happens far more accidentally than it does on purpose. And then when you want to go out and specifically, you know, bring a bring a child into a family, you know, it’s it’s not an easy process for many good reasons, of course.
[01:20:43.470] But it’s at the same time you’re you’re like, what?
[01:20:46.710] Can I not shorten the cycle on this here? I’m a I’m a good I’m a qualified lead. Right.
[01:20:52.290] Exactly. Exactly. I do it. That’s exactly what I want to say. Like, hey, I’m a qualified lead. Like, let’s let’s let’s move move through this process a little bit. No, in all seriousness, it is it is quite a process. So they’re coming to my house next week. Well, well, good luck.
[01:21:07.980] And on that. And I hope it goes as smoothly as it can go. I’ve got a few friends that also foster and it’s yeah. Not not a simple process which shows the intent and how strong it is that. You do have to go out of your way to make this happen, so it’ll, you know, the results will show and what it is. But yeah, here here you go. Was like, okay, look, I’m a qualified lead.
[01:21:30.360] You’ve got access to the EB. I’m your technical champion.
[01:21:33.240] I got everything. You know, I am the decision maker.
[01:21:37.860] We know the required capabilities. We know the ineffective alternatives. We’ve got it all right here.
[01:21:44.550] But making for Fosters, it’s is something we need. But I hope that people really do learn that there’s so much that’s important in what you do and what we all can do to just understand why this stuff works.
[01:21:57.870] And it happens at many layers in life and business.
[01:22:01.890] Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me on the podcast. This is a great discussion.
[01:22:06.000] Yeah, thanks very much. And shout out again to Chris over at mist.io for putting us together. Big shadow to Alex in the new stack and all the folks over there who I’m a longtime fan of their content. And yeah, like I said, people can go to do a quick search for Emily Omeir. You’ll see the new stack pop up and do check it out as well as your blog. Thank you.