I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing degree from Boise State in 2005. In 2010, I graduated with a Master of Business Administration. I went pro in marketing in 2005 and have been a part of a $1 Billion dollar acquisition and worked for several successful startups. Glad I went pro after attending Boise State and highly recommend COBE (the College of Business and Economics).
On New Year’s Eve I had two job offers and a current job that I hadn’t yet resigned from. New Years Day I resigned from my job, told one offer I was not going to join their company and was excited about the new role and company. January 2nd was an even bigger day, the birth of my second daughter, Rosa Lee, took place.
For the past few weeks I have spent a lot of time and energy thinking, evaluating and pondering about the future, opportunities, weighing options and determining what path is best for my family. After my daughter was born, I felt peace. There have been several moments since she has been in the world that have really helped me ponder some important aspects of my life.
One of these moments was at 3:30am the other morning. Mom and Rosa had just finished feeding and it was time for mom to get some rest and me to put our daughter to sleep. For 45 minutes I focused entirely on the task of pacifying my daughter. She eventually fell asleep and I realized there needs to be more focus in my life. Real focus with no distractions. This can be difficult at home with a 2 year old and 1 week old, but also at work with incoming email, meetings, the Internet, twitter and more.
I allowed outside influences to interrupt my internal peace in 2012 and I wasn’t the man I wanted to be all the time. I have a few goals for this year, but my main goal is to find more moments of peace and focus for myself and for my family.
I wasn’t threatened by it, that’s the main thing. And, you know, they had some good points, and I had some good points. Other guys stood up and said some great things. To me, it embodied everything that you should have on a team.
The point was that, we have what I call ‘Open Mic,’ and we can all say anything that we need to say and have to say. You know then that you’re responsible — when you say it, everybody’s gonna hear it, so you’d better make it your best stuff.
That brings out the best. Otherwise, it’s ‘Why are they sneaking around talking behind corners?’ You know what I mean? If you’ve got something, you put it right out here in front of me. I’m man enough to handle it. If you’re right, then you’re right! It’s OK to be right. But more important it’s OK to be wrong. And it’s OK for me to be wrong, too."
This morning I read a great response to a ridiculous Twitter post by Ann Coulter. She referred to Barack Obama as an R-word. In his response, John Franklin Stephens reminded me of an event that took place while I was in High School. I broke my arm my senior year and was in a cast for ~ 6 months. This lead to missing the entire football season and most of the basketball season. I remember sitting outside feeling sorry for myself when the special education group came out of the upstairs gym. A kid named Mike walked up to me and said “Rich, we just played basketball. It was awesome. You should play with us one day. You are good at sports.” That moment changed my life.
I realized that each of us has our own struggles and is trying to make it through life in hopefully the best way we can. My parents taught me to work hard and be a good person. To have faith, believe in others and do my best. I have some very strong political views, as do many people. Like many people, I am also disappointed in my government. I vote and try to be a good citizen, but not much more politically at this time in my life. The most disappointing thing about politics to me is the hate people have towards the other side. We have become too polarized to make good decisions for our country. I’m disappointed.
This is the reason I am an Independent. This is the reason I am still an undecided voter. I wish both sides would just grow up and start trying to solve problems. I thought Barack Obama was cool and compassionate enough to get this. I thought Mitt Romney was wise and experienced enough to get this. But they both stooped to levels of political pundits often acting like jerks throughout the campaigns and the debates.
Thanks to Mike and people like John Franklin Stephens for giving me hope in humanity and remembering to enjoy life. I’m excited to find leaders that though they may disagree, work to resolve issues.
This morning I read an article by Matt Fates of Ascent Venture Partners titled The Problem with SaaS Metrics. The main point was that SaaS metrics are a bit different than traditional public companies and SaaS companies need to present their value to these companies in an understandable way. There were two main points that I appreciated, one from the article and one from the comments.
Fates mentions a statement by Tyler Sloat, CFO of Zuora:
…Sloat told us what he sees as the “only three SaaS metrics that matter” — recurring profit margins, retention rates and growth efficiency.
I have been thinking a lot about focus lately, for myself and for the company I work for. I have been looking at customer acquisition costs and our most efficient lead sources. All of this leads to “growth efficiency”. If companies can have focus on high level metrics that drive activities, then they can shed the small stuff that distracts from the important goals. Although there is also a need for experimenting and testing new ways to grow. Need to put some more thought into this, but I like the term growth efficiency and will look to continue to focus on that.
One of the comments also struck me:
I will never understand why venture capitalist make things harder than they need to be. Subscription based services have been around for a long time (tabloids, newspapers, telephone, television, utilities to name a few). These industries have dealt with subscription based business metrics for decades. But that isn’t good enough for Mr. VC.
The VCs want to come up with another method to inflate the value of their investments. So let’s create NEW metrics to make things look better.
How about measuring your business using profit? Remember that thing we used to use to measure success?
While I am not cynical like this guy on VCs, it is often interesting to me how technology startups (including myself) sometimes live in a bubble. In college I sold pest control subscriptions door-to-door for Orkin Pest Control. In high school I sold subscriptions to high speed internet for one of my dad’s companies. It turns out I’ve been selling and marketing subscriptions for over 12 years now. Many of my friends own non-technology subscription based companies and do quite well.
My take, it is good to remember not to only look at what other technology companies are doing to grow but how older traditional companies “hacked” growth before this internet thing came along. Will I ever sell software door-to-door? If the customer acquisition cost makes sense, why not?
Last Thursday night I attended a Skillshare class titled “Marketing is Dead, Learn Growth Hacking” lead by Aaron Ginn. Aaron did a great job and gave some excellent examples. There are several posts about why marketing is dead or being replaced by Growth Hackers. Most famous or popular may be Andrew Chen’s “Growth Hacker is the new VP of Marketing”.
As a marketing professional, I’m always interested how to improve and what new tools / channels are available to generate demand. I am also always looking at who is going to take my job in 2-5 years. The conversation has intrigued me for a while and with Aaron coming to my city, I skipped Thursday night basketball and signed up.
Aaron didn’t spend much time telling us why marketing is dead (sadly) but spent time on principals of growth hacking and qualities of growth hackers. Before Aaron’s presentation my conclusion was: growth hacker equals demand generation marketing. The difference Aaron and Andrew contend is that a growth hacker is more technical or understands new technology and APIs better. But if a marketing manager, director of VP works for a technology company, they should understand the market and channels available for growth AND constantly be looking for new markets and channels.
For me, the best response to the question of growth hacker vs marketing, comes from Sean Ellis,
I agree. VP Marketing can be fine for a title, but they need to be focused on sustainable growth above everything else. Great interview question BTW. I also like to ask about the most effective unique growth hack they have figured out. If they don’t have an answer, then ask about the best one they’ve noticed someone else doing.
If your product needs growth, hire someone that focuses on sustainable growth. The titles they had in the past may not matter. Their aptitude to learn, adapt and be data driven in decisions is very important (as it is in all positions).
So do you need a growth hacker or a marketing hire, depends. What market you are in? Is your product SaaS, B2B, B2C or a developer app? Who is your target audience? What is your end goal? I think there is a lot of value that can be gained from new platforms and channels, but just as social media didn’t solve every marketing problem, hacking platforms for growth won’t solve them either. For most they need to be part of the marketing mix, not the only channel. Just my take.
This morning I read Javier Agüera article in Kernal magazine Don’t be Just Another Brick in the Wall. From the article:
“Our old education system hasn’t been able to catch up with the present, which is constantly evolving. Rather than providing children with the tools needed to tackle the unexpected and to deal with uncertainty, the world is preparing its children to solve problems that will be outdated by the time they reach the “real world”.”
This was a major problem for me during my eduction. Most of the material in the “required” marketing courses were out of touch in what was going on in the market. Luckily I went to a school that offered some great elective marketing courses such as Customer Relationship Management and Internet Marketing Strategy that helped me realize there was more to marketing than Ad Agencies and Public Relation Firms.
When I was in grad school, I decided to give back and created a class on modern marketing topics, such as marketing automation and CRM systems, online marketing and social media. The basics marketing principals I learned continue to help me today, but those in Universities right now (and those in the job market) need to supplement their education with an understanding of practices and tools used in the market.
There is a need to open our minds beyond what the Dean of (your program) requires you to learn and find mentors to help you understand what you should learn. I write this mainly as a reminder to myself to continue to learn new things and keep fresh, I hope we all can keep learning and find ways to impart knowledge on those coming up that we will one day work for or that will take our jobs.