Category

Leadership

When to Hire a Chief Customer Officer

(Post 1 of 4 in the series of Scaling CCOs) Very few startups start life with a Chief Customer Officer, even though customers are the lifeblood of every startup; instead, you’ll likely start your customer service organization with a “jack of all trades” account manager position. You’ll have one person who handles all customer issues from basic support all the way through to true customer success. Sometimes these functions will be handled by the product team but most often they are handled by a customer service team.  Specialized roles and multiple teams (e.g, support vs. professional services) with their own managers can emerge quickly in the life of a startup and these roles will usually come before a full-time CCO,…

5 Things Successful Founder Operators do Differently

I am fortunate in my current job to spend a lot of time talking to other founders and CEOs. I mentor and coach them, my company and I help counsel them on executive and board searches, and I spend time with them at conferences and seminars. Even when I am giving them advice, I always take time to learn what they’re doing, what works, and what doesn’t work. I’ve noticed a consistent set of behaviors and practices common among the successful founder operators – the ones who go on to lead their companies through multiple chapters of growth and sometimes never hire the “seasoned operator” to come in and take over.  #1 – They are students of the game. It’s…

How To Engage With The CMO

(Post 4 of 4 in the series on Scaling CMOs – other posts are, When to Hire your First Chief Marketing Officer, What Does Great Look like in a Chief Marketing Officer and Signs your Chief Marketing Officer isn’t Scaling) Similar to interactions with all CXOs, you’ll have to capitalize on your moments but there are a few ways I’ve typically spent the most time or gotten the most value out of CMOs over the years.  One of the key ways to engage with the CMO is to include them in meetings with the rest of the go-to-market (GTM) executives as a group, not in a silo.  While of course I have always had 1:1 meetings with my CMO, I…

Book Short: Must-Read for CXOs

Lead Upwards: How Startup Joiners Can Impact New Ventures, Build Amazing Careers, and Inspire Great Teams, by Sarah E. Brown, is an amazing book – and one that fits really well with our Startup Revolution series, in particular our book Startup CXO. I kept thinking as I was reading it that it was the other side of the proverbial coin…that Startup CXO was about the details of each executive job in a company…but Sarah’s book is about the things common to ALL executive jobs – how to get them, how to succeed at them, essentially how to BE an executive. I read it front to back in a single day one weekend and loved it. Some of the most insightful…

Signs Your CMO Isn’t Scaling

(This is the third post in the series… The first one When to Hire your first CMO is here, and What does Great Look Like in a CMO is here).  In Startup CXO I wrote that I always think that the French Fry Theory can be applied to many things, usually other food items. The French Fry Theory is the idea that you always have room to eat one more fry and in my case I always do. But the same idea applies to marketing because you can always do “one more thing.” One more press release. One more piece of collateral. One more page on the corporate web site. One more newsletter. Trade show. Webinar. Research study. Ad. Search…

What Does Great Look Like in a CMO?

(This is the second post in the series… the first one When to Hire your first Chief Marketing Officer is here). Whether you have someone in your company that can level up to greatness or you need to bring in a CMO, the characteristics and skills of a great CMO you should aspire to include some of the following. A great CMO understands that the marketing budget starts with drivers and business results and works backwards in a modular way to spend, not the other way around. Yes, they will get some resources but rather than spend that money to fill in the gaps on their team to make the Marketing function strong or powerful, they’ll look at the business…

When to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer

(Post 1 of 4 in the series of Scaling CMOs) Unlike some of the other teams in a startup, the marketing function often has a few people carrying out various tasks and you’ll find that there is at least a medium sized and quite busy marketing department—even at the earliest startup stages. You could operate this way for quite some time and it’s common to have a marketing team with multiple mid-level leaders well before there is a seasoned leader at the helm.  One of those leaders may be a VP of Marketing and, depending on the nature of the company, that VP is likely someone with a specialized area of focus within marketing (brand, digital, event, etc.) who has…

How to engage with Your CRO

(Post 4 of 4 in the series on Scaling CROs – other posts are, When to Hire your First Chief Revenue Officer, What Does Great Look like in a Chief Revenue Officer and Signs your Chief Revenue Officer isn’t Scaling) Assuming your CRO is on track and scaling with the company so that you’re not having to mentor or coach them, I’ve found a few ways to engage with the CRO that have been particularly fruitful. Here are a few tips on making every moment with your CRO well-spent. One of the easiest ways to carve out quality time with your CRO is during travel time, or in and around events.  Particularly if you’re a B2B company that engages with…

Book Short: New Advice from an Old Friend

In 2005, I wrote a post called Unfolding the Map in which I looked at these two seemingly opposing philosophies from successful entrepreneurs: If you don’t have a map, you can’t get lost If you don’t have a map, you can’t get where you’re going and tried to combine them when thinking about product roadmapping. The same contradiction and combination could be applied to anything, including coaching and development. That’s why I was excited to read my friend Matt Spielman’s new book, Inflection Points: How to Work and Live with Purpose. Matt worked at Return Path twice over the years — first as employee #3 (more on that in a minute) and then over a decade later as CMO. We…

Signs your Chief Revenue Officer isn’t Scaling

(Post 3 of 4 in the series of Scaling CRO’s- the other posts are When to Hire your First Chief Revenue Officer and What does Great Look like in a Chief Revenue Officer). If you’ve hired a “great” CRO (see previous post) you might think that you’re set for a long time and that the great CROs are also able to scale. Not always, and you’ll have to check to make sure that your CRO is scaling and growing as much as your company. I’ve found that there are several telltale signs that your CRO isn’t scaling and fortunately, they are easy to spot and easy to correct. First, if your CRO gravitates to being an individual contributor sales rep…

What Does Great Look Like in a Chief Revenue Officer?

(This is the second post in the series…….the first one on When to Hire your First Chief Revenue Officer is here.) If you’re looking for a great CRO, one thing you want to avoid is being “sold” by a dynamic and engaging salesperson instead of finding the best CRO for your company. Over the two-plus decades of working closely with CROs I figured out what “great” looks like and I’ve found that there are five things that great CROs do. While you might not find all these characteristics and attributes in one person, you should definitely look for them! First, a great CRO knows when to turn up the volume, and when not to.  Thinking through our metaphor/framework for enterprise…