Taking a "lesser title" in a new job is one of the hardest things an exec in our ad tech/digital media space can do. It's exceptionally hard for managers especially when it appears everything around us is heading north.......including real or perceived Peter Principle moves. ("That guy got a VP Sales job????") However, keep your antennae up and you'll notice Decisions of Smartness being made (DoS....my acronym of the day). Say hello to my little friend.... Greg Gortz. Well he ain't that little and he made a big decision last spring that is paying off. Greg proves you can take a step back, and it's quite ok. If you talk with him, it's more than just ok, it's great.
Greg and I have worked formally together for many years and I caught up with him yesterday. Greg joined Moat last May after a long run as VP of Sales at Zemanta (a smart, growing, content management platform). Understandably, the size difference of Moat (a SaaS analytics company focused on transforming brand advertising online) versus Zemanta is not small, so the move back in title was not out of the ordinary. But nobody forced Greg to join Moat with only a promise of rising up. He could've scored another "senior manager" title somewhere. Greg bought in to Moat's view that their service is so complex, it is unfair to hire managers from outside the company. And, he recognized one can learn a lot about management development by taking a step back and learning from his chair as individual contributor. And while Moat will constantly need to guard against the Peter Principle given their hire from within strategy, Greg's comment to me that the company hires really smart and driven people suggests Moat will continue to make good personnel decisions.
Most of all, I'm impressed by my buddy Greg's vision and maturity....last spring he acknowledged that his need to learn in another arena was more important than satisfying his ego over the pursuit of a loftier title and role. Good job Greg, go Tribe!
If I had to draft a team of managers in the digital media / ad tech sector, Polly Lieberman at Flashtalking would be one of my first-rounders. The headline quote actually wasn't the entirety of what she said when we caught up today, the actual quote was this: "The job I was hired to do wasn't a job...yet."
The big difference with those two quotes is Polly's attitude and approach, which is why she's having big success in her career. Polly understands the basic premise that it is up to her to create value in everything she does....every single minute of every single day. In her words, Flashtalking focuses on "programmatic creative" and one of her main charges is to work with the senior execs at holding companies to guarantee the work keeps flowing through Flashtalking.
"In my role, it's often hard to measure success and I'm not wired that way...I like to work with hard metrics," added Polly. Unfortunately, most of the jobs in the ad tech industry either don't come with specific success metrics assigned to them, or, mis-management means performance is not guided and/or measured correctly. (For more on how big-boy companies now view performance management, check out this interesting HBR article - I don't agree with everything in the article, but the perspective is important.)
Either way, Polly knows the secret: it's not up to anyone else but you to figure out that providing value always will equal success in a career. Why am I writing about a "no duh" concept? Simple, most managers I work with aren't as obsessed about providing value as Polly is, and that's too bad: be obsessive about providing constant value - to your peers in the company, your clients, those you manage...everyone around you - and success will flow naturally.
Thanks for the reminder, Polly....keep hitting those backhands up the line!
I had a nice long chat with a dear friend yesterday ("dear friend"...I sound like my Mom).... Nicole Taylor. She's over at Snapchat now, ya may have heard of 'em. (Disclaimer: I adore Nicole for her business brain. Nicole runs brand partnerships for S-chat based in San Fran and I've worked with her closely over the years during our stints together at SAY Media. Nicole is a serious up-n-comer manager to keep an eye on for a lot of reasons, but mostly because she's got the 2 Cs: Commitment, and she Cares. Deeply on both.)
Anyway, I was listening to Nicole describing how things are going at Snapchat and I thought of the "fast growth dilemma" I've seen a few times: how to keep one's head when everything seems to be a "yes" all around you. It made me think of a client I worked with a few years ago who got a hit every time up at the plate.....bad pitch, stick the bat out there and it still drops in. Ball outa the strike zone....rap it the opposite way for a double. Every single at bat turned in to something good.
What happened to this digital media company was something that I hope doesn't happen to Nicole and her good friends at Snapchat....and I'm not saying it will. Every person at the company to which I'm referring got complacent even after a few months of hyper-success. Even the top managers. Simply stated, they started believing the headlines. What was amazing to me was that being spoiled by the market got deeply embedded in their sales culture after only a very brief period of time (let's call it six months or so). It was shocking to see how fast the erosion of ambition and drive occurred to the point where they never really righted the ship afterwards.
Most of us are not in this type of situation where our product and services are selling like hot cakes, but there are microcosms of "too much success" that we see all the time. We get on mini-rolls and think it's "what we desreve" or "it'll last forever". But it won't. Fight it. Stay hungry. Don't let success change your outlook. If you're on a roll, enjoy it, but don't sit down and soak in it. Keep a level head and again, stay hungry.
You go, Nicole, you go!!!!!
I talked this morning to a very long-time friend, Michael O'Donnell, whom I respect very very much. Mike is a serial entrepreneur who has salesman-DNA. After catching up on his new exciting venture, HealthiNation, Inc. (a site that helps and inspires people to live healthy lives through really slick, engaging videos), we spoke about the true challenges that sales persons face. And for those who don't "do it" regularly, they truly have no idea about the complexities and nuances needed for success in sales. And that got me thinking...
There have been few things written about more in business than the art of sales. Luminaries smarter than I have researched, written, formularized, argued, and posited about different styles, techniques and approaches since Adam mass-picked apples and needed to start selling them. Where I sit in the digital media and ad tech industry, the movement of the last few years has been about consultative selling: the art of conversing with a prospect about what their true needs are. Ok fine, but at the end of the day there's still fundamental truths about selling. You still have to put on the uniform, go dig up some prospects, and convince them of your product/service.
Mike has always been one of those stars who makes everything look easy...but I know that he works it, and works it, and works it. He's committed. He has the sense of drive to just keep going. Because at the end of the day, there's only one book title that should frame what selling is about: "Commitment: How I Farmed the l
Land Over and Over Again to Grow My Territory!"
Maybe some day I will write that book....oh wait, I kinda do with all my Selling.2.YES newsletters and blog posts. But if I DID write the book, I would want my buddy Mikey O'Donnell to write my intro!
Happy selling....get at it!