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Our guest today is the Head of Global Marketing at Clubhouse, Maya Watson.
Clubhouse is leading the creator, partnerships, community, editorial, and communication teams for all marketing initiatives. Prior to Clubhouse, Maya was an executive at Netflix leading Editorial & Publishing, and a longtime executive at OWN Networks and Harpo Productions. Originally from Minneapolis, Maya has a BS in Marketing & Advertising from Indiana University and an MS in Integrated Marketing and Communications from Northwestern University.
In This Conversation, We Discuss:
How the field of marketing in education has evolved over the years
What started the trajectory of growth for Clubhouse
How to screen out seasoned and senior applicants that are too corporate for your company
The balance of being business savvy and following your intuition
How to transition from a small company to a bigger company
How to care for your employees while keeping them accountable to their work
Connect with Maya Watson: LinkedIn
Clubhouse – https://www.clubhouse.com/
Connect with Cameron: Website | LinkedIn
Get Cameron’s latest book “Meetings Suck: Turning One of The Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable
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The post Ep.178 – Clubhouse Head of Global Marketing, Maya Watson appeared first on COO Alliance.
Our guest is the Head of Global Marketing at Clubhouse, Maya Watson. Maya is leading the Creator Partnerships Community, editorial, and communication teams for all marketing initiatives. Prior to Clubhouse, Maya was an executive at Netflix, leading editorial and publishing. A long-time executive at OWN Networks and Harpo Productions. Originally from Minneapolis, Maya has a BS in Marketing and Advertising from Indiana University, and an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. Maya, welcome to the Second in Command show.
Thank you for having me. Happy to be here.
My dad used to joke that a BS in Marketing was exactly what it sounded. Now that’s not true because marketing is such a science now. Marketing used to be the art of communication, but now there’s such science behind it.
My dad says the same thing.
Your degree and the education that you have, has it become completely redundant in the era nowadays? I’m not dating you because you’re not old. Has Marketing changed so much in the last years, do you think, or is a lot of it still very relevant?
With education, it prepares you in how to think, how to approach problem-solving, how to think about frameworks, or going through case studies to learn, grow, and analyze information. In terms of the practical, tactical art of marketing, what I do didn’t exist when I was in school. I went to Northwestern in 2009, 2010. For instance, the idea that you could build a career in social media was not something that existed. I think that programs I’ve seen lately have gotten a little more sophisticated in thinking about the digital and social era. Back then, it was the four Ps of marketing.
It’s funny. Whenever I think of marketing, that’s the only thing I even remember. The four Ps. You’ve been at Clubhouse fairly new. You’ve only been there for about 6 or 7 months, is that right?
That’s right. In the grand scheme of Clubhouse and how many people we have, I’m actually very tenured because we’re going fast. I joined officially in early March 2021, and I was employee number 15, and now we’re around 70 people.
How has that growth been?
Exponential. Overwhelming. Exciting. It feels like some days, I just got here. It feels like, “Today is day one.” Some days it feels like I’ve been here for 37 years because so much happened so fast here.
What has the growth been like? Has it been hard to manage? Has it been easy?
This is my first time at a startup like this. I’ve been at more established companies in my career, so I didn’t know what to expect. I think it’s been good. With Paul and Rohan, they are serial entrepreneurs in this way. They’re very reassuring to be like, “This is normal. This is fine. This is what to expect.” I’m like, “Is this what’s supposed to be happening?” It’s been good.
The best part about it has been the hiring and the teams that we’re building. Every time we bring in somebody else who’s incredible, it gets even more exciting. It’s because we have more heads at the table, more brains solving all of these problems that we’re trying to face, so that’s been fun. The energy from the community and our creators has been exciting.
For the people who came early and who have been a part of the community for 2021, they are also excited about the growth and seeing the energy that’s coming to Clubhouse. I would say, though, moving this quickly and having this kind of growth comes with a lot of pressure, too. I definitely feel the pressure to deliver and to deliver at a super high level. Pressure makes diamonds, I guess, so it’s a good scenario to be in.
That’s the quote we have to keep telling ourselves in this high growth. I said it a thousand times when I was building 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Pressure makes diamonds. Clubhouse was at fifteen team members for it seemed like ever or was that just the public statement? I think I joined Clubhouse in October 2021. I got in reasonably early, but it was like fifteen people. What started that trajectory of growth?
I was not looking to join Clubhouse. It was not on my radar. I knew that I wanted to leave Netflix and do something different. I wanted to be at a startup and move over to the tech space and do something outside of the entertainment landscape. Paul and I got connected to each other, and we were talking. This was probably in early January or February 2021.
He was like, “The growth here is exponential, and if we don’t stop everything in higher, we’re going to be in big trouble because it was just taking a life of its own. Clubhouse was on this trajectory that is unheard of. It got to the point where they didn’t have a choice but to stop everything higher, get the foundation solid to then be able to grow from there.
When I came in, there were two people on the team. Steph Simons and Anu have been long-time community members and are also very visible in the community. He said, “I want you to build comms, social, editorial, programming, creators, and community. All these different functions. I was like, “First of all, that is more than one person’s job, but I will see what I can do to get started.”
When you’re building, the most important thing is the people. Getting clear about what kind of person do you need at this stage? The job is going to change 1,000 times. It wasn’t even about what’s the tactical part of the job. It’s like, “We need a Global Head of Communications or somebody to lead partnerships.” What’s the kind of profile of a person that’s going to be successful at this moment?” I hired 6 people in 6 weeks. It was something insane. It was the fastest I’ve ever hired. For me, the way that I recruit is I’m pretty focused on “That’s the person I want.” I don’t stop until they say yes.
I think you hired a friend of mine. You hired Kelly Stoetzel from TED.
Was that you that poached Kelly?
Kelly had been in conversations with Paul before I got here. It was just light conversations because Guy Raz was active on the platform and Kelly was curious about Clubhouse. When she and I started talking, every team is critical at this stage, so they’re all very important. Media Partnerships is a team working across different verticals and industries to educate and onboard new people onto Clubhouse.
That’s important because as we started with an invite-only model to be in, if you think about the concentric circles where the invites went, it started with the tech in the Silicon Valley industry. What’s important to me to expand the types of conversations, the people, and the energy in the app. Having these verticals around, “What types of industries are going to do well on Clubhouse?”
Thought leadership obviously is something that we thought would be important. Of course, having great conversations about big ideas, deep conversations, philosophical thinking, anything. When Paul mentioned, “I met Kelly.” I was like, “Kelly from TED? Put me on the phone with her.” She and I started to talk. A lot of times, it’s the right time, it’s timing. She’s been at TED for seventeen years. She helped build it and was looking to do something different and was really intrigued, so it made sense. We’re both big fans of each other and it worked out.
She’s going to be a great team member. I’ve been friends with Kelly for years. I’ve been going to the main TED now since 2010. I did a talk that’s on the main TED website about raising kids as entrepreneurs instead of lawyers. Kelly’s wonderful. I’m a huge fan of it. I’m going again. I’ve been to TED Women. I was one of only a number of men to be allowed to go to TED Women, and I went again. Great organization. That’s why I got obsessed with Clubhouse. For anybody who just woke up from the coma they’ve been in, tell them what Clubhouse is if they don’t know.
Clubhouse is a social audio app where you talk live and communicate with friends around ideas. It is live audio, meaning that it’s happening in the moment and it’s based on conversation. It’s voice only, so we don’t see your face. There is no content that is additionally in the feed. It’s just live conversations happening all over the world around different topics.
What’s exciting about it is we also talk about it in the sense of it’s collaborative. It’s groups and tribes. On Clubhouse, you can either find your rooms first or find your people first. There are rooms happening in our hallway. We think of it as a physical place. You are in Clubhouse. You go through the hallway. You scroll through rooms, and there are rooms happening.
There could be standup comedy happening. There could be a TED conversation happening called Thank Your Ass Off, start your morning off with gratitude. If you keep scrolling down, there could be a small room of five people trying to figure out what they’re going to do for the day. If you keep scrolling through, maybe you’re being sung to then by the Lullaby Club. You can only whisper. It’s this whole spectrum of experiences that, through the power of voice, connects people.
I got pretty addicted to Clubhouse. I joined roughly last October 2021, got deep into it for about 3, 4, or 5 months where my kids were laughing at me. I used to listen to everything on Clubhouse when I was cooking, driving, or working out. I loved it because it was that engaged conversation and unlike something like Facebook, someone makes a post and then somebody comments. You’re not engaged in a conversation, and it’s a very delayed conversation, whereas you’re definitely engaged. It’s an amazing app. I love it. In the growth that you’ve been in, what have been the biggest struggles for you personally that you had to overcome? Where have you had to grow as a leader?
The list is long. A couple of things. This is my first time stepping into a role as Head of Marketing. Stepping into this new scope has been something that’s been interesting. It’s my first time reporting directly to a CEO and founder, being at a startup, and being in tech. It’s my first time onboarding to a company remotely and getting to know people not in person as often. Building a team remotely. It’s the first time working at a UGC social platform.
With all of that, what I’ve had to recalibrate is how I’m going to feel every day. When you’re in these big cushy, stable corporations, I took for granted the stability that comes with the infrastructure that exists. Here, in the early days, I would say, “Paul, do we have?” He’d be like, “No, go build it.” “Have we thought about?” “No, I need you to think about it.” “What about?” “Nope, it doesn’t exist. Go do it.”
Building from scratch requires so much intellectual Olympics. You’re not only building something that hasn’t existed. You’re building something that you want to do it in a way that feels good and right. That’s also in line with where we’re trying to go. For me, it’s like, I didn’t even know how to do this one thing. Now, I have to figure that out and build it at the highest levels possible, really fast.
It required me to be disciplined in my day. There is not a lot of space to just not be regimented in how things get done. Otherwise, things pile up and you get behind. The worst feeling you can have at a startup is to feel like, “I’m falling deeper behind,” because the list of things to do is so vast. You have to stay on top of your to-do list and the things that need to get done.
The ruthless prioritization, which is “Of the thousand things we need to do, what is the thing I need to do today? How do I get that done? How do I figure it out?” That’s been interesting, but such a great learning curve because I can tell that it’s made me a more thoughtful, stronger executive very fast. Just being honest around, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know, and there’s a lot of stuff none of us know.
Part of the magic is how to bring together the right people and create the right environment and space where we can solve problems. I was just talking to this new employee and he was like, “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.” I was like, “Guess what? None of us are.” The magic is you know how to solve problems, you’re curious, you know how to build frameworks and how to attack things. It’s about taking those approaches and the things that we know and applying them to an unknown space. We’re going to get some things wrong, but if we have confidence in our abilities, we’ll be okay.
How do you screen out the seasoned and senior people that you want to start bringing into Clubhouse to work with you that’s too corporate, that can’t run in this entrepreneurial pack? How do you prevent them from even applying? It’s a different breed.
It is a different thing. I don’t know that on paper, I would look like the person who would do well at a startup.
No, but you had the traits. What are the traits that you have?
If you’re in a bigger corporate environment, it’s about, “Have they been entrepreneurial in a bigger place?” You don’t have to have built your own companies or done your own thing, but have you created something? Did you see an opening that nobody else was filling, and did you go fill it? Were you a self-starter? Did you go figure it out, and how did you figure it out?
Those kinds of things, you look for it. I’m a big believer in well done is better than well said. I also try to look for things that I’ve seen in the world that have been impressive to me. Who is the person that did that? Go find them versus having so many incoming and screening a lot. In my recruitment process at this stage, I want to build the most diverse team that tech has ever seen on the marketing side.
That’s super important to me because if we’re thinking about DEI to begin with, you don’t have to do it later. We need to make sure that we’re building a team that is representative of the communities that we’re ultimately going to serve. Looking throughout the landscape and looking at, “Who did this thing over there that I love?”
The reason Fadia Kader was one of my first hires is because I saw how she innovated at Instagram in quarantine with D-Nice and Club Quarantine, building Verzuz Battle that became this huge cultural phenomenon. She created that in a way where it was like, “How do you be creative on these platforms in this time?” I want to go get her. I had seen what Grey had done with Spotify on the comms side because I was such a huge fan.
At Netflix, I’m like, “Who’s running their comms? It’s so smart and sophisticated in the way they use data.” I’m like, “I want to go get him.” Who built TED? Go get her. Oprah taught me this. Where you put your energy is where you get results. I didn’t want to spread it too thin. I wanted to be focused and potent around the types of people. You get a few, then it’s like, “Look who we have. We have these people. Be a part of the special thing that we’re building.” We’ve been fortunate to bring in the most talented team that I’ve ever seen.
I’m glad you mentioned it because it was my next question. I love that you “Aw, gee, shucks,” it like, “Oprah taught me.” It’s like, “Pass the Cheetos.” What was it like working at Harpo? When I built 1-800-GOT-JUNK? we actually were on the Oprah show. We had a great episode and it was extraordinarily hard to get in the door. What was it like to work there? How did you get in the door? How did you get hired there?
It’s such an epic story. It was my first real job. I started right out of college. I became a single mom at nineteen in college. That was probably the most pivotal moment in my life because it’s like, “You got to actually figure out what to do with your life. You can’t keep partying on South Beach.” I moved home. My parents lived in Indiana, which was 90 miles outside of Chicago.
I grew up watching the Oprah show and I was like, “Wouldn’t it be a dream if I could go there?” I don’t know what led me there. I always wanted to work for people in places that I felt inspired by and that I was a fan of. I remember driving up to Harpo Studios because this was back when there was no LinkedIn.
I was in my gray Express suit in Chicago. I went to the front desk and said, “Hi, I’m here to see somebody in HR.” They said, “Do you have an appointment?” I said, “No, I do not, but I know there’s an HR team here, and I would like to meet somebody, so I could learn about opportunities.” They wouldn’t take me, so I ended up sitting in the lobby for five hours that day.
I sat in the lobby and it was fine. Everybody was like, “How did you sit in the lobby for five hours?” They had the TV up in the lobby where you could watch the tapings of the show. I was entertained all day watching the shows being taped and saying, “I’m not leaving until I meet somebody in HR.” This gentleman comes down. His name is Torrance. He’s a good friend of mine to this day.
He’s like, “What do you want?” I’m like, “I need to meet you because I want to work here. I don’t know if you do internships or informational interviews.” I was twenty years old at the time. He was like, “No, we only hire college grads, and you have to have production experience,” this, that, and the other. I said, “If I go do all these things, then you’ll hire me?” He said, “Yes, it’s likely you could get hired if you do all these things.”
I said, “Can I have your business card? I’m going to keep you up to date because I’m going to go do all these things.” After that, I got an internship working for ESPN Radio, getting some experience there. I worked at Comcast for a summer, getting some experience there. I was a General Assignment Reporter in WSBT in South Bend for a summer to get production experience.
Every time I would have these moments, I would email Torrance and be like, “Just wanted to update you.” I’m checking off the list of things. That took me about two years, and then he called me and said, “We’re doing an internship program. I have to call you because you’ve essentially been annoying me to death. Can you come in for an interview?”
I came in for an interview the next day to work in publicity and I got hired. I started the next week. I lied and said that I had my degree when I didn’t. I called the dean of the Business School at IU and I said, ” I have this incredible opportunity for a paid internship. I need you guys to work with me in my last semester.” It was my last fall semester. He said, “We’ll do independent study. You don’t have to come into campus.” They didn’t know that I was going to classes at night and doing all of this stuff, but I started in the fall of 2007.
Working for her was a dream on so many levels. The work was exhilarating. You felt you were at the epicenter of culture. The things happening in that tiny production studio in Chicago were making waves all over the world. Working with incredible women. The team, in particular, was very female-driven, so being inspired and seeing women at different positions and different levels coming together.
Working for her. She is an incredible leader. She is a woman of integrity. She is incredibly smart and business savvy. I spent a decade there. In my twenties, I spent working for her on the Oprah show and then transitioning over to the Network. Working on the magazine and a lot of different projects and initiatives there. It felt like a masterclass in life.
There are so many things where you’d be in a meeting with her. I remember this very fondly often happening where we’d be in a meeting. Somebody would be presenting something. They would’ve spent weeks or months working on it. We would get to the end of it and she would be like, “Doesn’t feel right. I get all the numbers they’re saying to go that way, but something doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like me. It doesn’t feel aligned with who I am, or something feels off, so we’re not going to do it.” The balance of being business savvy but also paying attention to your intuition. That often is not something that’s regarded in business, but following your gut.
It’s not enough. Do you trust yours? Do you use yours or work with yours?
One of the things that I took with me from that experience is talking about intention. You couldn’t do anything without being clear about what your intention is. What are you trying to achieve? If you are putting somebody together and working on something, you have a clear intention. Does it all line up? I have a very deep spiritual practice.
I don’t go to work every day without having the quiet moments of prayer, meditation, and devotional to get still and get clear. I think that guides me. The truth is, the more you use it, the more you are in tune with it. You know when this doesn’t feel right. It’s all energetic. That’s probably the greatest gift she gave to all of us working for her, the gift of following your gut.
It’s interesting what you said. If you have the intention, and then it’s trusting your intuition. What I layer into it is your behavioral trait of that persistence. That’s it. If you know where you’re going, trust your gut along the way, and work hard, you’re going to be good, right?
There is no silver bullet. That is the lesson of the startup world for me. You just want to wake up and be like, “The things that we’re doing are working.” The truth is there’s more failure.
It takes a long time.
It’s like where you’re building the railroad tracks. It’s like in the open frontier. It’s grits. Can you get up every day and get through your list? Can you finish that last email? Can you make that other call? Can you push yourself to come up with that new idea? It is a game of persistence and resilience. That is probably the number one quality that I look for and also want to attract. You can have done anything, have been anywhere, and have that trait. It’s a grind.
Can you speak to that? Clubhouse is going through a bit of an inflection or a struggle point. It went through such a massive buzz, crazed energy, and then it seemed to hit a wall. It’s not dead by any stretch. It’s not even dying. It’s just that something’s changing. How are you working through that with the team and what’s changing?
It’s natural for people to have that perception.
By the way, a lot of the change is good. There were lot of marketers ruining Clubhouse very quickly and you somehow were able to stop that, which was good.
The good news about Clubhouse is that it broke through and hit a core need that we all didn’t realize we needed, which is we all want to be so much more connected than we are. Clubhouse allows you the opportunity. People gravitate towards it. Without a lot of real effort, it just took off on its own. Whenever something like that happens, that’s what I’m most curious about.
What is it doing? It’s got to be needing some deeper need. We talk about it as a more human place on the internet because it’s a big exhale and a big like, “I can be myself here.” It took off super-fast. There were only 10 or 12 people on the team, 4 engineers. When something takes off like that on its own without having the right infrastructure, it’s bound to break.
Paul talks about this a lot, which it was actually unhealthy growth. It’s not sustainable growth. When it grows that fast, you don’t have the things in place. What’s happened is it’s like, “Let’s slow things down.” Back in March 2021, we intentionally slowed down the invite system because we can’t keep letting people in here in a broken system.
It’s like, “Let’s fix discovery. Let’s fix this. Let’s hire a team. Let’s get a logo together. Let’s get a plan in place. Let’s have a clear value proposition. Let’s make sure people can find their friends. Let’s make sure we’re surfacing up the right room. Let’s make sure that the new user onboarding flow is smooth.” Basic things had not been done. Despite all of that, we’re still seeing the amount of rooms created go up every day. In April 2021, we reported 300,000 rooms opening up every day. We announced 700,000. The amount of rooms have doubled.
People were like, “Clubhouse is dead.” Part of what happened is we weren’t in control of our narrative, which was something that we weren’t able to tell our own story. When we hired Gray, our Head of Comms, he was the first comms person in the building. There was no proactive storytelling about the things that were happening behind the scenes.
What was happening is the reaction to the growth, and then, of course, inevitably, like every story, it’s like, “It’s here. It’s over. It’s dead.” For all of us who are there and who are here, it’s like, “It’s not. It’s actually thriving.” Post-general release, and when I say general release, it’s like now that it’s open where you don’t have to have an invite model and anybody from anywhere can come in.
We’re seeing incredible conversations and global communities from all over the world. There’s also discussion happening from every spectrum. You had the crisis in Afghanistan happening. You had the spectrum of rooms happening, from pundits’ commentary to people on the ground in Afghanistan giving real accounts to OnlyFans drama and sex workers sharing their stories.
There was a conversation about the power of Black Twitter, which is WIRED’s cover story. Jeopardy! drama with LeVar Burton and Mike Richards, and what’s happening there. People making cat noises in the middle of the day. It’s literally the full spectrum of experience. What I’m excited about is we see the shifts and the types of conversations expanding. News, cultural events, sports, comedy entertainment, music, lifestyle, beauty, wellness, faith, and religion. I think that’s what’s really exciting. There’s so much more happening than there was before.
A lot of it has changed from being marketed to, to discussions happening as well. I won’t mention any names, but there were some rooms where they were big rooms, but you were just being marketed into some funnel, and it wasn’t productive. I’ve got a couple of questions. This isn’t for you, but for someone who maybe is looking to. How do you make a transition from being a second in command of a smaller company, like a 10 to 20-person company, to a bigger company, like 100 to 200 employees? What advice would you give people?
It’s about understanding. Going back to intention. Why is that important to you? Knowing what your core principles are as a leader and how they might translate and adjust as you go from a small team to a bigger team. Leadership is one of those things that we don’t talk about enough being a skill. It’s something that you have to practice and study just like you would accounting or law.
It’s about understanding what are your core philosophies as a leader. How do you go about solving problems and getting to solutions? How do you create environments where people can operate at a super high level? One of the best principles I learned from Netflix was this idea of “Leading by context, not control.” They have a very specific value system and cultural norms at Netflix, which are incredible.
One of the things they taught us is like, “How can you lead people by not telling them what to do but by creating a space in an environment that sets them up for success?” I think that’s true whether you’re leading a team of 5, 10, 50, or 100 people. As a leader, I believe you are the chief context and clarity officer to help create the space where people can be successful.
Once you understand that, then you have your style right around what kind of environment you are trying to create. What kind of team connections are you trying to inspire? How is the work going to change from 10 people to 100 people? Putting that process in place. That worked for me. When I was at Netflix, my organization went from 3 people to over 100.
The job becomes different over time. Instead of talking to one person around here, let’s talk about how we’re going to get this done. You’re now talking to 75 people. The same principles apply. It’s how you might talk about it, how you might set up the context or the storytelling. Making sure they understand what success looks like.
That might change if you’re talking to a more broad set of people versus an individual. My dad’s an entrepreneur and he’s led a lot of teams in his career. One of the things he taught me as a leader was like, “When people aren’t delivering, it’s important that you focus on you and not them because nobody wants to not be successful. Nobody doesn’t want to do well.”
Everybody wakes up, goes to work, and wants to do a good job and wants to be seen for the work that they do. Either you haven’t set up the right context, your expectations are not the same, or they’re not clear on what success looks like. You go through those three things. When you go through those three things, if you’re still not getting the results you want, then maybe it’s a skill deficit. That same thinking applies at an individual level, a small team level, or a big level. Do you have the right clarity at the right expectations, and do you know what success looks like?
There’s another question I got. How do you, as a leader, not get too emotionally entangled in your people’s lives and needs as humans when it’s getting in the way of business? It’s that delicate balance of really caring about people, but we still need to get our job done.
I don’t know if this is controversial. It’s probably not a controversial opinion. I don’t think there’s a way to be a good leader and to not get emotionally entangled with your employees. Especially with people who are either your directs or you work most closely with. This is why it’s sometimes a painful experience because I deeply care about people and you can’t lead what you don’t fundamentally understand.
When you’re a leader, you’re in the human business. You have to understand all the facets of that human because they are bringing their full humanness to work. You do have to know what’s going on in their personal life. You do need to know if that sick child is getting better and how they’re managing their divorce. You do need to know things like that because that shows up.
It also allows us to be a lot more compassionate and empathetic but then also allows us to trust each other. We also have to be honest with each other to say, “This is still business.” We do have to make hard decisions that sometimes don’t feel good and can feel uncomfortable. To me, the goal is it should be a mutual beneficial exchange.
We’re getting to know each other, you need to know me as a human, I need to know you as a human. You need to be getting out of what you hope to get out of this experience. I need to be getting out of what we said you were going to bring to this opportunity. We’re going to be in it together because we spend more time with the people we work with than our own families, most of the time. It’s odd to say we’re not going to be emotionally invested when we spend most of our days with these people.
Not only do we have to know, we actually do have to care about all of that.
We actually do have to care.
You mentioned that it’s your first time reporting to a CEO. What have you learned from that?
It’s fun. I’m really fortunate because Paul is incredible. He’s funny, compassionate, and patient. It’s no different than reporting to any other manager or boss. I think I’ve just put more pressure on it because I find myself being one of his chief advisors. At this stage, a lot of it is still in his head in terms of where this company can go.
Part of my role I see wants to build out and manage the functions that he is giving me the privilege to oversee, but also, I have to know him on a human level in the same way that I would want to know my own people because we’re building this together. Understanding when he says this, does he mean that? Understanding the nuances and the different parts of him so that I can help bring the vision to life even faster. It’s been great. I get in my own head sometimes where I’m like, “Am I good enough? Does he think I’m doing a good job?” I’m also self-aware enough to ask, “Do you think I’m doing a good job? Where are areas that I can grow or you feel like I need to double down in? He’s been a great partner.
One other last question before I wrap up. You mentioned the ruthless prioritization. What system do you have that allows you to prioritize like that?
We definitely use OKRs as an organizing principle as a company, but it’s also talking to the team a lot. It’s this combination of understanding, from a business level, our goals and what we are trying to accomplish. What’s the most important thing from a business perspective? Speaking with everybody on the team to ask, “What do you think is the most important thing we could be doing? What do you think is going to have the greatest impact?”
Taking all of those insights and then sitting and choosing a few things. Sometimes you realize, “We picked the wrong thing. That wasn’t the most important thing we could do.” Other times it’s like, “That’s actually great. There are goals over there. Let’s keep going.” It’s trial and error. It’s learning a lot from those who have come before us, too.
Doing our due diligence to understand what’s worked and what have been the trajectory of other companies like us. It’s a lot of us sitting together in a room and saying, “What do we think?” Based on gut, intuition, some data, and the voices of the team. Being like, “Let’s choose that one and let’s see what happens.”
So far, I think we’re doing a good job. Not only as a team but I think, as a company. Making sure that we’re creating value for the community, which is of the utmost importance. People who are using our products don’t feel fulfilled or aren’t finding value. That’s a huge mistake and a huge loss. That’s always the most important thing. Underneath that, it’s like, “What are all the things we could do to keep adding value?”
Let’s go back to your day one. You’re walking into Harpo Studios, your first career job. What advice would you give yourself back then that you know to be true now, but you wish you’d known when you were starting off?
I would have said, “Take more notes and keep a journal of all of your experiences because you’re going to look back and be astounded by the experiences. Take the pressure off. You’re going to be fine. Your only job is to show up and be the best version of yourself. Be kind to others. Be curious and everything else will follow.”
I love that. Thank you so much.
Maya Watson, the Head of Global Marketing for Clubhouse, thanks for sharing with us on the show.
Thanks for having me.