Our guest today is the CMO of Ceros, Jamie Gier.
Jamie works with many top brands including NBC Universal, Monster.com, JP Morgan, Wall Street Journal, United Airlines, and United Healthcare to create immersive content experiences.
With more than 25 years of experience, Jamie has worked with leading tech companies from healthcare to education to grow and scale by creating impactful brands, designing revenue-gathering go-to-market strategies, and leading high-performance teams.
Prior to Ceros, Jamie held roles at DreamBox Learning, SCI Solutions (now R1), Microsoft, and GE Healthcare. She also serves as a board member for Page Ahead, a nonprofit focused on the literacy needs of at-risk kids in Washington state, and chairs its marketing and fund development committee.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- Biggest takeaways from working with Microsoft
- Cultivating a healthy relationship with your employees
- How to manage politics and silos from getting into the organization
- Thoughts on branding versus marketing
- Proper management of remote teams
Connect with Jamie Gier: LinkedIn
Ceros – https://ceros.com
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Our guest is the CMO of Ceros, Jamie Gier. Jamie works with many top brands including NBCUniversal, Monster.com, JPMorgan, Wall Street Journal, United Airlines, and UnitedHealthcare to create immersive content experiences. With more than 25 years of experience, Jamie has worked with leading tech companies from healthcare to education to grow and scale by creating impactful brands, designing revenue gathering, go-to-market strategies, and leading high-performance teams.
Prior to Ceros, Jamie held roles at DreamBox Learning, SCI Solutions, now R1, Microsoft, and GE Healthcare. She also serves as a Board Member for Page Ahead, a nonprofit focused on the literacy needs of at-risk kids in Washington state, and chairs its Marketing and Fund Development Committee. Jamie, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
I love that when we were talking before hopping on, I said that when I first moved to Washington State back in “93, everyone wanted to work for Microsoft. When I came back in “99, everyone wanted out of Microsoft. When did you leave Microsoft?
I left in 2008. I was there for two years. What attracted me to Microsoft though wasn’t the prestige of the brand as much as what they were trying to disrupt in healthcare at the time. There were a lot of non-healthcare tech companies getting into that space. The approach that Microsoft was taking to solve some of the challenges was interesting. The group that I joined was part of an incubation business under Craig Mundie’s organization at the time, so it’s R&D. That was the attraction to Microsoft. When I moved to Seattle in “94, it wasn’t because of Microsoft at the time I was wanting to go there.
What did you pull from Microsoft? What do you think you brought with you in your career?
The biggest thing that I learned from Microsoft was critical thinking. They’re very good about looking at an approach and being able to critically think about the 5% that’s wrong with it. It made me a richer thinker of the 5% that can make a big difference if you don’t get it right, and I appreciated that.
How long have you been at Ceros now?
I have been at Ceros for several months. I joined during the pandemic.
What was it that got you to join? What was it that brought you over there?
A couple of things. One, I was a former customer of theirs when I was at SCI Solutions. The second is I love the creative slant of what they do. I had focused most of my career on specific verticals. I spent twenty-some years in healthcare tech, then segway into ed tech. This was giving me a chance to serve a lot of different industries that I care about and that are exciting to me in a very creative way. For the first time in my career, I get to market to people like me.
You walked into the company. What was the size of the organization when you came in? How many employees?
They bring you in from the outside into a super senior role reporting to the CEO. You’re the CMO there. You inherited a team. There were probably people on your team that wanted your job and didn’t get it. Can you walk us through all that?
I’m not sure that there was somebody on my team that wanted it, but I am the first CMO that they hired. Back in 2020, Ceros was able to secure a rather large strategic investment led by Sumeru Equity Partners out of the Bay Area. That is what fueled their desire to bring on a CMO for the first time to help take that investment and lead the growth of the company in partnership with our head of sales, head of product, and others. They hadn’t established a discipline around go-to-market from a marketing perspective. Part of that investment, thesis, and strategy was to do that.
How was the entry with you coming in? Did the senior leadership team accept you right away? Did you have to work your way in and build the relationships? How did you go about doing that?
I joined during a pandemic. We’re probably still in one. Many would say that. I was the first strategic hire that they made that isn’t located on the East Coast in New York. I’m out in Washington. In any situation like that, trying to establish yourself in relationships in a remote way when you’re across the country is difficult. The team has embraced me, and even though we interact a lot across a screen, namely Zoom, I feel very much a part of that team. In full transparency, it’s a hard thing to do when you’re remote and there are travel restrictions and limitations. It’s not like I can go on a plane and fly out, so it’s come with some of its challenges.
What do you think you did if you were to drop into it tactically? What did you do that helped you develop those relationships? Maybe it was cognizant, maybe it wasn’t cognizant, but can you reflect and see, “I did this and this?” There are a lot of people in the second-in-command role who come into an organization and they have to do this. It’d be interesting to hear what you did because it’s still fresh for you.
There were some of the basic things of making sure that you’re finding your network within the organization and establishing the one-to-one relationships and getting that time on your calendar. I did make a trip out there. We did break bread for a week. The executive team got together. The great thing about this executive team is they’re very vulnerable. It’s probably one of the most vulnerable executive teams I’ve been a participant.
That accelerates the bonds that you create, to begin with, but I go out of my way to make sure that I’m connecting one-on-one. We do have a daily standup with the exec team. Every morning, we’re on there and about 60% of the time, catching up on life. “What did you do for the weekend? What’s going on with your high schooler? What’s going on in this home improvement project?” We use the time to be real and personal with each other, and that has helped to cement the relationship, and then we move on to the business, of course, because that’s what we’re there to do. We should never underestimate the power of vulnerability in our relationships even at the executive level.
It’s important that people realize even more so now than it was back in the “80s and “90s. We have to blend the personal and the business to build relationships and trust. Have you ever had that bite you in the a** at all when you get too close to your peers or too close to your team? Do you find that it’s always a strength?
You have to strike the right balance. Like you, I grew up in the earlier years of my profession where that was taboo. You didn’t mix a lot of that. It’s changed in a very good way, but you got to be careful about that. Sometimes those personal relationships can put blinders on and make it a little bit more difficult when tough conversations have to take place. Some people do it well, but it can create its own challenges.
The reality is this. I’m a single mom. My son has always been a part of my professional life. I’ve shifted towards this work-life integration. I have a much better profession when my personal life is intact and when I feel as though I’m fulfilling my role as a mom. I’m unapologetic about bringing that to the table when I’m an executive.
I’ve mentioned this to all of my teams and in the companies that I’ve joined. You’re going to hear me talk a lot about my son because he fuels a lot of the passion that I have for things. I also want to make it okay for other executives to go, “That’s okay.” We all have our own family dynamics. Those are big pieces of who we are as people and it’s what makes us human.
Bringing the personal aspects to the table creates those connections. It also creates understanding and interesting stories as well. We connect on stories, but to a degree, you got to also be careful about how far you take them because we’re still in a professional setting. I’m super happy that since the time I entered the workforce in the early “90s, we’ve shifted away from the, “It’s all about business,” to, “We’re humans. We have these other interesting aspects of our lives that make us better at what we do.”
COVID has accelerated that for us, too, where we’re now used to seeing everybody’s kids walk by, or the courier shows up, or a dog barking in the back. We’re like, “It’s called life.” We’re fast-forwarded because it didn’t happen. The kids didn’t walk past the boardroom. The courier didn’t show up at your boardroom and your meeting rooms. We’ve all gotten fast-forwarded.
The other part is, none of this matters. We’re all going to die. This is what we’re doing. Our family is more important than the business, and people can accept that. You’re in a company that’s big enough now where politics can creep in. How do you avoid politics and silos from getting into the organizations when you’re at that size?
I don’t think that you’re ever going to avoid it coming into an organization. It’s the way in which you manage it so that politics become a healthy aspect because it’s always going to exist. There’s damaging politics and there’s healthy politics. It’s what you allow that to be. I’m a big believer that what you permit, you promote. If the politics get out of hand, you got to call it out and you got to stop it because it becomes toxic. Even with the most established relationships that you have, that’s where that personal versus professional relationship dynamic comes into play.
Politics can be healthy if they’re managed and channeled in the right way. I’ve worked for some organizations that get things done through politics. I don’t last very long there because that wasn’t part of who or what I wanted to be. Many of those organizations have since morphed out of toxic politics into more productive ones, but I don’t think that you’re ever going to avoid it.
What’s it like working with a company that has the backing of a PE firm? How do you navigate the good and bad of that? Can you walk us through that as a senior exec?
Yes. I’ll preface this by saying that the size of company that Ceros is, is exactly the type of company I love to be part of because it’s in that growth phase. A lot of the time, that growth phase comes with a PE firm or a Private Equity firm. It is an interesting transition when you go from being self-governed, which is you have a founder-led and you don’t have the governance of a PE firm to one that now has taken on a sizable amount of investment. You’ve got shareholders outside of your own employees. You’ve got to be good stewards of the money and the investment that they give you.
The healthiest PE firms that I’ve been led by strike a very good balance between providing some oversight and being a helpful, trusted advisor, with allowing you to make and drive your own decisions because you know the business well. There’s always going to be some accountability, but allowing the business to be who the business is, its culture and DNA, and allow it to thrive based on that.
I am aware of PE firms that try to be so prescriptive. They throw you a playbook and they say, “Here you go. This is our playbook.” It becomes a one-size-fits-all and those companies tank. It’s because they don’t take into consideration the beauty of what that company was and continues to be and allows it to thrive. The best PE firms that I’ve worked under have a good balance of, “We’re a strategic advisor. We’re going to help guide you.” There’s accountability. You have numbers that you do have to hit, and there is such a thing as EBITDA. We also appreciate the unique cultural dynamics of your company and what you do. We don’t want to take away from that.
Where do they raise your bar? Where do you think the PE firms help you become better companies?
In ways such as strategic growth. How can we expand the company into new markets? By the way, having access to market research allows us to think a little bit more intentionally about how to enter a new market. What I’ve appreciated about the PE firms that I’ve been under is I’ve always had a seat at the table. That’s not always true.
When the CMO has a seat at the table, they view that role as being strategic, but with that comes accountability. That accountability is, we are a revenue-producing department, not a cost center. That’s where they can provide some guidance on what other portfolio companies are doing and being able to leverage some of the best practices. For all intents and purposes, private equity firms are good about helping to think through growth strategy, M&A activity, and how to expand your user base. They come with best practices that you can modify for your own
Have they pushed people into the organization? Have they forced you to hire certain people? Have they left you as an organization to make those decisions on your own?
They’ve left us to make those decisions on our own. What PE firms are good about doing is leading you there a little bit, too. As you’re thinking through new growth strategies, with that comes, “Do we have the expertise on staff? What do we need to bring to the table that we may not have if we’re going to go after a new market and a new product line?” They’re good about helping you think through what talent may exist or not, but I have yet to work for a PE firm that said, “You must hire this role.”
I was just reading through something in our notes and you talked about the CMO role that you’re in and that it was the first time that the organization has had that CMO. Did they have a Director of Marketing before? Did they have like a marketing manager? Did they not even have marketing at all?
They had marketing established for sure. They’ve been very supportive of marketing and we have a sizable team. We have what we need to do what we were designed to do. They’ve had different people in that, including our CEO. There were moments when our CEO was playing the CMO role until they could recruit and find me. They’ve had different people in there.
When I walked into this role, one of my first priorities was to help align the entire team, because that’s what I was going to focus on. When they didn’t have that leader, that was focused solely on the marketing organization. There were things that I had to come in and do, help realign, and start building the bonds on our team as well.
Why do you think they grabbed you? Why did they pick you?
Ceros is a highly creative company. By nature, what we do is creative. We do immersive content creation, working with 800 well-established brands. The people within the organization tend to be very creative, including our CEO. One of the most creative CEOs I have ever worked with and for. As you grow your business, you got to bring in more of the discipline of the science behind the company and the science behind marketing.
While I consider myself to be a whole-brain marketer, which is balancing the art and science of what we have to do, I’m spending a lot of my time bringing in the science, the order to the business, and the practice and discipline of marketing, and how we even think about broader implications for the business. It was largely being able to straddle both and having worked very hard to establish the science of marketing. Digitals allowed us to do that in many ways and bring that discipline into the organization.
You said something in your notes that many marketers are even trying to move away from the CMO title to the CXO title. I saw the CXO title on someone’s bio, and I was like, “What is that? Is it Chief Experience Officer?” What is CXO? What are they trying to market themselves away from?
We talk a lot about customer experience. At the end of the day, we are trying to create any business with the ideal customer experience. Number one, to attract new customers, but also retain them. I believe that CMOs, to capture that experience side, have started to morph their titles to this Chief Experience Officer. In some cases, they might do both Chief Marketing and Experience, because marketing still struggles with showing their contribution to the business.
Sometimes we still get defined or positioned as more of a sales support or we’re the brand people, which I want to come back to because I think the brand is absolutely critical to what we do. I’m afraid that we’re moving too far away from it because it’s not well-defined. In trying to shed the existing perceptions of marketing, we’ve tried to take on these new titles to make ourselves more relevant.
It does make sense. I can see that marketing might be created as those designers, the little creatives that are off in the corner versus, “They are very strategic. They do understand the entire business.” Is it branding or marketing? Which is more important? This is where we’re supposed to smoke a big joint. I know there’s no right answer, so I’m just curious about where you’ll go with this.
It’s a philosophical conversation. They’re two sides of the same coin. Oftentimes, a brand gets pigeonholed into, “It’s a marketing thing,” but the brand is your business strategy. It is the DNA of the company. For some reason, we keep pushing it into this, “It’s your logo. It’s your design.” Logo, design, and creative are expressions of the brand, but your brand strategy is focused on the value that you bring to your customers. That is your business.
What you bring to your customer is your business. It certainly informs and drives how you go after the marketplace. What new features you might roll out in your product? How you might service your customers? How you retain the best talent that might be in a certain marketplace. The brand encompasses all of that, which touches every aspect. That’s why I chuckled at the, “Is it brand or is it marketing?” because it’s not one or the other. It’s both. We need to make sure that we see the brand as central and core to the DNA and the heartbeat of the organization that influences all aspects, not just marketing.
Do you see changes happening on the PR side of things? Do you touch that side of marketing?
I do. I oversee that function.
What do you see happening there?
Nowadays, you cannot decouple PR from social media. I’m still a believer in PR. With PR, you have to be okay with implied attribution. That’s a whole different discussion on how digital has moved us to such a hard ROI and everything has to have attribution to it. There’s also this thing called implied attribution and you just know the stories that you’re out telling.
Here’s a good example of that because I consider what we’re doing now an aspect of PR. Somebody might tune into this show and learn about Ceros. It might pique their interest, but where do they go? They’re going to go to the website. I don’t know if they read our discussion and were influenced, I have no idea, but they’re going to go visit the website. I lose attribution for that. There’s an intuition in some of this implied attribution that comes back to forums like this, which links back to PR. It’s still important. PR can help with reputation management, but it’s one of many channels that we use to reach audiences and buyers, and tell stories. It still has a role.
It’s a huge opportunity to get those groups talking together as well. Do you work closely with operations and get them to understand marketing more? How do you get operations to listen to marketing more, versus marketing having to listen to ops?
Frankly, we listen to each other.
For sure, but how do you get them to see you at the seat at the table versus, “We should go call them in?”
If marketing can demonstrate its contribution to the strategic conversations that happen around growth and retention when we can bring leading indicators to the table to indicate what’s going to happen in the marketplace or we anticipate because of the data signals that are being fed to us, there’s a level of respect and appreciation for our voice and our contribution.
One thing that I do tell my fellow CMOs and anyone entering the profession is to come to the table with ideas. The other piece of that is to remove your functional hat. Get to understand other aspects of the business that make the business tick and have a point of view on that. Lastly, understand the financial metrics and the business metrics that are important to indicating the health of the organization and show how you link to that.
Is that a cost for requisition, lifetime value, or gross margin?
All of that, yes. Understand gross, net, and all of those financial indicators that we use to understand the health of the business and how we might need to course-correct. Be knowledgeable of those things.
You talked a little bit about attribution. You threw a couple of big terms out there and it’s something I’m working on right now for our COO Alliance. It’s understanding first-click attribution, last-click attribution, and implied attribution. What do you think are the key metrics for companies to measure around attribution? Is it all of them?
No. We want to move away from that. It’s interesting that you asked that question. I belong to CMO Huddles. We were having this discussion as well. It was around attribution. We need a move to multi-touch attribution, especially in B2B because there’s not one thing that motivates somebody to interact and engage with your brand, and then make a purchasing decision or not.
It’s multiple things. We need to take into consideration all of the different ways that a buyer engages with your brand to know the most important things that move and inspire them. Help them make a decision, help them consider you, versus the alternative. Maybe there is no alternative. There are a lot of signals that are important for us to measure.
The most important for marketing is around pipeline contribution, revenue contribution, and being accountable to that. All of those other things that you talked about, the first touch, last touch, everything in between, how many clicks, and impressions. They all have to be looked at holistically to get a good sense of what’s moving someone to want to interact with your brand. They can’t be looked at in isolation.
The other piece of that is there’s a lot that we can track and measure thankfully to digital. I started pre-digital days when it was all about print and publishing. We have to also get comfortable as we’ve swung the pendulum so far to, “Everything has to be measured with implied attribution,” which is what I brought up a little bit ago. We have to trust our own intuition and experience to understand that there are things that can’t be measured but do matter in how brands get to know who you are.
The visibility events that you can’t quite measure and track, but you know they make a difference. At the end of the day, we’re all consumers of products and services. We know our behavior. I can’t tell you how often, when I am on Instagram, for example, and I see something that’s interesting, but I’m not quite ready to do anything. I got to scroll past and I take a picture on my phone. Later that night, I’m like, “I’m going to go check out their website.” We break some of that journey and what you can measure and we got to be careful of that.
You’re right on the attribution stuff and measuring it all, or understanding all the touches. I’ve talked often about something called the Rule of 27. I don’t know where I ever first heard it, but the idea being that a person needs to see nine of your marketing messages before they take action. However, because we’re bombarded with everything, they only see 1 of every 3 things we put in front of them. They need to see 9 times 3.
You need to hit them 27 times so that they see 9, and so that they take action. We need to be knowing where they’re getting hit from all areas for sure. Do you think that the pendulum is swinging back enough yet for companies to understand their messaging? We got so far into the data and analytics of marketing that we forgot how to write good copy like we used to.
We’ve allowed data to overcomplicate our world. Again, there are many amazing things in the world of data in helping us see things that we didn’t have insights into. We’ve overcomplicated what is simple. It’s getting back to the basics around storytelling and the message, to your point. People gravitate towards stories. These other things are simply ways that they get expressed in different channels that they get expressed.
We’ve become so focused on how many impressions and how many clicks that we forget that the words that we use and the language that we speak are so important in moving somebody and creating that emotional connection. I’d love to see us get back to simplifying what has become overly complicated and get back to the basics It is why I’m probably nostalgic towards the past when I think about the print days and the publishing days. There were some basics that we all adhered to that did matter and they made a difference.
I was dumbfounded the other day. I was working with a client who has a brand that only sells to women. I asked him something about his marketing and he said he’d ask Bob, his Director of Marketing. I said, “Tell me about PR.” He said he’d ask Steve as Head of PR. I’m like, “Is everyone working on your brand a guy?” He’s like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Are you an idiot?”
Guys have no business being in this conversation. We’re not hairy versions of women. We don’t think the same. We don’t make decisions the same. We don’t use the same wording. Different color palettes appeal to us. Are you out of your mind? He’s like, “That might be the best coachable moment of my career.” I’m like, “We got to come off this real fast.” I don’t know if there’s data behind that, but it didn’t make any sense why we’d have a bunch of guys making decisions on a female brand.
I would agree with you on that. That gets back to know your audience, and then devise your talent in your team of those people that can best serve that audience. That’s not to say that men, in this example, are not going to have great ideas of how to develop a largely female apparel line. Look at some of the world’s best designers. They happen to be men. I wear their clothes. We do. There’s a good point on that. We have to be cognizant of that. The other mistake that we make, too, is that companies get so enamored with themselves that it becomes so much about their product and they lose sight of the hero of the story. This gets back to the basics, by the way.
This is Marketing Comms 101. You’re trying to show somebody how to be a better version of themselves, how to live a better life, what that could be, and what that feels like. Instead of showing that, we show it in a product. Instead of showing the outcome of it and the expression of joy, whether it’s the words or the visual language that we use, too many companies get enamored, and it drives me nuts. It’s not about us. It’s about them.
Here’s a good case and point. When I was at DreamBox, learning K through 8 Online Math that would supplement what the kids were learning in the classroom, we fell into the trap of a lot of our marketing focused on technology. It focused on the teacher and the kid on the screen. We said, “That’s not what this is about. What it’s about is showing the opportunity a child has in their life, realizing, and recognizing their dreams. If they can grasp Math, they feel confident as learners. If they can comprehend how to do Math, you showed the better version.
We did a whole campaign around Dream Big. It focused on kids seeing themselves as future astronauts, construction workers, designers, or whatever they wanted to be. Our message was simple. Create the confidence that they need in learning, including Math so that they see the possibilities of their future. It landed so well because it united everyone around the child, the parent, the learning guarding, the teacher, and the superintendent. It wasn’t about everyone that we served. It was the child. That campaign brought tears to the eyes of the teachers in our own organization who went, “We got it.” That’s exactly how it has to land. For some reason, it seems so basic and we’ve moved away.
I did a talk that’s on the main TED website about raising kids as entrepreneurs. Part of my initial messaging was that kids have dreams, and as we grow as adults, we take them away. Allow kids to have those entrepreneurial dreams. I get so frustrated. It’s changed a lot now. The school systems don’t crush the dreams of entrepreneurial kids, but they used to shut them all down. Like, “You can’t sell that. You can’t sell those things. I’m like, “Let kids be kids. If they’re an entrepreneurial kid, let’s inspire them.”
You mentioned COVID a couple of times and coming into your role in COVID. I know that we are still in this stage, but there are also important lessons that we can pull from having to steer a company through COVID. What have you pulled that you’re going to carry with you in your career, even as we emerge from the pandemic? What do you think you’ve learned that has made you a better executive or that you’ll always use in your role?
The silver lining of COVID is that it has exposed the importance of connections, humanity, grace, forgiveness, and all of these things that we talked about earlier. I see it as a good thing. I spent a considerable amount of my leadership management time helping my own employees through the emotions of COVID, which were very personal to them because it impacted their families.
Many of us, including myself, were trying to manage not only this new remote working environment that we were not familiar with. I’d always been in the office. We’re remote learning and managing our kids and our profession. To your point earlier, my son would show up on a Zoom call or my cats jumping on my lap or attacking my leg. It showed us our real, true, authentic selves. Even those who are uncomfortable being vulnerable had no choice but to be. Those were moments where we could step up as leaders. In many ways, I can’t speak on behalf of the entire leader leadership world, but I felt like a therapist at times.
Leaders have always been therapists and we’ve ignored the role sadly. When I was the second-in-command for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and I grew them from 14 people to 3,100, the people side of the business was exhausting to me because I played therapists. I cared so much about their dreams, insecurities, fears, lives, and passions, and then I had to get the work done. It was because I cared so deeply that I had that culture that emerged from that. Sadly, so many leaders have missed that opportunity.
I spoke to a CEO in Denver and he’s got a great company with about 100 employees. I said, “Your role is to be the Chief Energizing Officer, not the Chief Executive Officer. You have to go out to praise and thank people, and show gratitude.” He’s like, “I don’t do that enough.” I said, “How often do you tell your girlfriend that you love her?” He goes, “Daily.” I’m like, “Really? You don’t do that quarterly. Why wouldn’t you tell her quarterly that you love her?” He started laughing. I’m like, “That’s what you’re screwing up in the company.” We need to humanize that.
Can I make one more point on that, though?
It’s such an important topic. I don’t want to skip over it too quickly because there are teachable moments that are important to us as leaders. That is being there in a compassionate and meaningful way, helping to guide them, and taking the time to do that. Also, as leaders, it’s allowing ourselves to feel it as well, but taking time to take care of ourselves.
One of the things that I learned during COVID is that I was putting forth so much energy and taking care of my team members in a way that I had not had to do pre-COVID. There are all of the complexities of what we’re having to manage. I put a lot of energy into that. One of the fatal mistakes that I made was allowing myself to wear down. I would take that offline and I was exhausted. As leaders, I’d like to think that we’re superhuman. To some extent, we all have our superpowers, but part of our superpower is realizing when we need a take a break and take care of ourselves.
What is United Airlines, one of your clients? What do they tell us in their safety briefing? “Put your oxygen masks up first.” Leaders have to treat themselves like racehorses. The final round of questions around the remote teams and leading remote teams. It’s now pretty much become ubiquitous, but that’s just the way business is going to run. What do you think you do well in running remote teams and growing your leaders of remote teams?
I make time for them. It’s simple as that. Beyond our established weekly meetings, I will send a text message. I’ll ask about something personal in their lives. We have to make ourselves more accessible because we’re not seeing each other in the office. I’m not passing you in the hallway. It does take more energy and discipline, but it makes such a huge impact. That investment of time is very important.
What I’ve learned through this whole remote and now being permanently in a remote position is you make the time. Don’t rely on Zoom. Pick up the phone. Do walk and talks. I’m notorious for doing walk and talks. I’m like, “Get your sneakers on. We’re going to go outside.” I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy by now because I’ve been doing this for quite a while. I’m out doing my power walk, talking, and having conference calls. It’s good for your well-being and health, but you got to make the time. That’s how you do it. Find ways to connect.
I want to go back to the 21 or 22-year-old self. You’re just leaving college or getting ready to start your business career. What advice would you give the 21 or 22-year-old that you know to be true now, but you wish you’d known back then?
Find the thing that fuels your passion. I feel very blessed that I found what I truly love to do and I’ve been able to apply it to different industries. I decided to focus on the high social impact of companies. Find the thing that fuels you. Don’t go into something just because there’s a lot of money there or they might be lacking. Find the thing that fuels you, that you’re passionate about, and always go the extra mile. I tell my son every day before I drop him off at school, “Have a joyful heart, a good attitude, and give more than expected.” Those are the people that are going to stand out.
The second is to establish a personal board of directors early on. They could be family members, friends, mentors, or whomever. These are going to be the people that will give you critical feedback and you got to be willing to take it. That can help guide you because they’ll open up doors and they can answer questions for you, and that is so important. I didn’t learn that until later on.
Fortunately, I had good mentors as I was progressing in my career. I worked my a**off, too. I was the person that gave 120%, largely because I loved what I did. Also, I’m extremely competitive. It wasn’t until later on in my career that somebody said, “You should think about a personal board of directors.” I’m like, “That’s novel.” I would say that because that fuels and accelerates. It’s a safe place to go to get the good, the bad, and the ugly. Remember, feedback’s a gift. People have to remember that.
Those are beautiful. Jamie Gier, the CMO from Ceros, I appreciate you sharing with us on the show. It’s amazing.
This has been a lot of fun. Thank you for inviting me and allowing me to share my story and what I’ve learned along the journey and continue to learn. Always learning, constantly learning.
Of course. Thanks again.