Effective Executive: David Baeza, CMO of Apperian

We are delighted to share another interview in our “Effective Executives” series. This week’s interview is with David Baeza, Chief Marketing Officer at Apperian. David is well known as the founder of several private and one public tech company. He’s the former VP of Global Demand Gen for Citrix Online, makers of GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC. He regularly blogs about marketing and social media, contributing blogger at workshifting.com, producer of online mobility conferences, and speaks on the topic of media and brand positioning. He is also the Advisor to TreeHouse and TwitterKids.

You have a very dynamic background including roles as CEO, VP, Advisor and CMO. Which role fits you best and why?

What most people don’t know is that while I was CEO of a public company, I was also officially the CMO. I have never been able to let go of marketing, so to be perfectly honest with myself, the role that fits me best is CMO. I love all aspects of marketing, but disruptive positioning, design and content creation are closest to my heart. The real role of the CMO is that of a story teller. We tell stories through content. We make promises of what could be. However, CMOs are only as good as the products and services they market. The price of entry is an amazing product. Great CMOs don’t get behind products they don’t deeply believe in. If they do, it is all but guaranteed your marketing is going to fail.

When did you spark an interest in working in the technology field?

It was less of an interest, and more of an accident. After grad school I landed at a small financial consulting firm in L.A. Our clients were in the telecom business. I joined one of our clients to manage sales. That client was a technology provider to the large telephone carriers. I never looked back. Fast forward to 1998 and I launched the first national ISP to compete with AOL. Damn that was fun! During that time, I launched a television campaign called saygoodbyetoaol.com. We figured out that people would switch from AOL if they could keep their AIM account. So that’s exactly what we advertised. Yes, we got sued. A lot. In the end, it really worked. Since then, I’ve launched a few tech companies, and had the opportunity to work at some amazing tech brands. I am certain that there is no other industry that is as sexy as technology. My job is to make it even sexier.

What do you love about your role as CMO?

It’s the only profession that you’re paid to break all the rules. At best, “best practices” in marketing are directional. For example, I was reading a survey from Sirius Decisions about marketing to the CIO. Last on the list as an effective tactic was newsletters. I thought, Wow! What an amazing opportunity to reinvent the newsletter. What if I simply blew up the standard, boring newsletter template and created an amazing digital experience ? Think Flipboard for the CIO. A completely immersive piece of content. I get excited just thinking about it! That’s the reason I love what I do.

You are a lead organizer for Twestival, benefiting Charity:Water and Concern Worldwide. Can you tell us a little bit about your role and about the event?

Twestival is a global event that takes place on a single day to benefit one charitable organization. It uses crowd sourcing and volunteers to organize in person meetups for the benefit of the charity. The founder of Twestival, Amanda Rose, has taken that formula and teamed up with Jamie Oliver to produce FoodRevolutionDay.com to educate and highlight the world’s food issues. My role at Twestival was that of a sponsor and fund raiser. I managed the Santa Barbara Twestival, both online and meetup. I think that any company of any size should always strive to have charity as part of their DNA, even if the company is not profitable. By starting early, even if it’s just donating your company’s time and resources, it builds a foundation of character and giving. That ultimately results in a broader perspective of the world. Recently, we created a living art project in Spain at Mobile World Congress for the benefit of Global Hope International Network. The impact far exceeded our expectations. An artist from Misfit flew to Spain and created a living art project – which means that she painted live during the exhibit and finished the project on the last day. People came up and were given the opportunity to paint different portions of the art. Each time someone painted, Apperian donated $50 to Global Hope. In the process, we created an amazing exhibition, had insane engagement from attendees, and raised a lot of money.

Besides technology and branding, what else are you passionate about?

Family. I know that sounds boring but I’m deeply committed and believe in family first. I’m married, and I have two little girls, 6 and 8 years old, and they are my life. I instill family first in my team. I don’t value them based on butt-in-seat time. I care about their results and I insist that they have a well rounded life. I am not impressed by people that work 10 -12 hours per day. In fact, I have the opposite reaction. I tend to think, “What’s wrong?” Are they inefficient? We have amazing tools that allow us to workshift from anywhere in the world. There is simply no excuse for not having a balanced life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s 10pm as I’m writing this from Boston, and I live in California. I do what needs to be done, but I have boundaries. My family needs my time more then they need the money I earn. I don’t let anything stand in the way of them.

How do you define “innovation”?

If a company ever declares innovation is a strategic imperative, it’s the beginning of the end. Innovation is a cultural paradigm. It starts with an intense desire to explore, challenge and break things. Yes, break things. It can’t be contained to a budget item on a spreadsheet. Innovators come in all sizes and shapes. It comes from all aspects of company, not just engineering. It comes from customer service, interns, lawyers, accountants…it’s everywhere. Great companies seek it out and wrap their arms around it. They encourage idea generation, transparency, and failure. If companies let their people fail, without fear of consequence, the speed of innovation is absolutely staggering.

What is next for you in 2012?

Since 2012 is almost halfway over, it’s about execution. We have some great products that we are about to ship. It’s about narrowing the scope of opportunity and focusing on those things that have the greatest impact. I’m also trying to figure out new extensions of content. By that I mean things like Pinterest and Instagram. I’m also thinking about new formats for video, online seminars, and more. On a personal level, I’m going to be speaking at more conferences about marketing. I love to speak, but I hate to travel. That’s like saying I love to eat, but I hate food. The two things go hand in hand. I have a personal blog I’ve been threatening to launch for a year, so I intend to get that out as well. I also love wine. I was dabbling with a wine blog but I put it on the shelf because it took too much time away from my family. I’m planning to travel to Europe in July to do some serious brand disruption and to attend my first Shakespeare play. It sounds crazy, but I think Shakespeare is going to have a significant impact on my marketing in 2013. I feel inspired by his work, and that always leads to great ideas.

 

 

 

PerkettPR Introduces our “Effective Executives” Interview Series

PerkettPR is excited to introduce another interview series, “Effective Executives,” showcasing business leaders from top companies across the globe. Our goal is to continue to share insights, tips, tricks and suggestions from those who have seen it all. How do they work? What keeps them up at night? What tough lessons have they learned? We kick off this series with John Golden, CEO of Huthwaite.

Founded on scientifically validated behavioral research, Huthwaite’s methodologies—which include the internationally renowned SPIN® Selling — guarantee sales success. Huthwaite assesses your organization’s needs and develops customized sales performance improvement and coaching programs for sales and marketing professionals that drive real business results. For more information, please visit: www.huthwaite.com.  Follow Huthwaite’s blog, Twitter stream and Facebook page.

John Golden is President and CEO of Huthwaite, the world’s leading sales performance improvement organization. Golden joined Huthwaite in 2008, where he is responsible for the company’s U.S. financial and operational performance and long-term strategy for success.

Prior to Huthwaite, Golden was the Senior Vice President of education & business development of the Mortgage Bankers Association. In this role, he was responsible for the restructuring and sustainable growth of the CampusMBA business unit. Golden created and executed new marketing strategies, established standards for operating and quality control, and implemented cost controls to maximize profit margins. Before that, Golden was Vice President of the educational services division of Learning Sciences International, a startup company providing professional development products for K-12 educators where he defined and executed the company’s go-to-market strategy. Golden also spent two and a half years at New Horizons CLC, the world’s largest independent IT training company.  As Vice President of products and programs and a member of the senior executive team, Golden managed a $32 million business unit responsible for sourcing, building and providing products and services to franchise locations in more than 50 countries.

Golden started his career in the learning industry at SmartForce (formerly CBT Systems) in Dublin, before moving to the corporate HQ in Silicon Valley, California to launch the first fully integrated online learning platform.

How is leading a business in the U.S. different from leading a company based in Ireland?

In some ways this is hard to answer, as I have never led a company in Ireland.  My leadership experience has all been in the U.S., however, I would say that while there are some obvious cultural differences, I don’t think they are so great as to change the fundamentals of good leadership – which I believe are pretty much global. In Ireland, given its size, relationships probably play a slightly greater role because the personal relationship has always been an integral part of how Irish people do business, whereas in the US, given the fact that many of those you lead or do business with are spread across the country (even the globe) – and you rarely see them face-to-face – the relationship element plays less of a role. In other words, I feel in the U.S. you can operate in a very pragmatic manner and be all about business – whereas in Ireland you may need to temper this a little with the relationship element.

What is the biggest pro of adopting sales software in an organization? Biggest con?

The biggest pro to adopting sales software is that you can provide sales people with real time tools to do their jobs better while allowing sales management to have greater visibility into opportunities and pipeline, which in turn allows them the opportunity to coach more proactively and in a more targeted fashion. It is through this lens that you need to evaluate software before deciding to deploy it with your sales organization. For example, ask yourself “Does it help organize the sales person’s approach to an opportunity; does it reinforce the right behaviors, tactics and approach and does it provide managers with insights to coach to?”

On the con side is the “shiny new toy” syndrome, where management may come across a great piece of software that will provide lots of data for management, but has no real benefit for the sales person – and thus the deployment just sucks up time, resources and money and because it doesn’t benefit the sales person. The data returned is junk.

What advice would you offer to executives looking to find the best software package and implement it successfully within their organization, in a timely manner?

In terms of choosing software, I would refer back to the questions I mentioned above – ask yourself “Does it help organize the sales person’s approach to an opportunity, does it reinforce the right behaviors, tactics and approach and does it provide managers with insights to coach to?” Using these simple questions as a first step in your evaluation process will save you a lot of time and qualify out applications that are not going to be successful.

Secondly is to take an iterative approach to implementation. Don’t try to roll out all the features of a software application at one time. Pick one or two that have the biggest benefits and are the easiest to learn and adopt. Then spend a period of months getting people to use and see the value of them and only then add some others. If you take an iterative approach, especially if sales is your audience, you save a lot of time and angst and ultimately have a more successful implementation.

You have a diverse background including business development, marketing as well as quality and cost control.  Which area are you most passionate about and why?

Running a business is what I am most passionate about because it forces me to draw on all my experiences and it requires a level of dexterity in that you need to be able to switch between the high-level strategic and the down-in-weeds tactical almost at will. At the end of the day, a successful business that is generating good profit margins is a measure of how well all the constituent parts are working together, and how customers value what you do – and this is what gives me the greatest satisfaction.

Having worked for a startup (Learning Sciences International, ) in the past, how did that experience prepare you for your current role as CEO for Huthwaite?

It helped me in so many ways because I am not sure you can ever match the experience of sitting at a cheap plastic table in a tiny office with just a laptop and trying to figure out how to deliver on the bold vision of the founders of the company. It was the first time I had to involve myself in every aspect of a business, so it provided a great foundation for working at Huthwaite. It also taught me that sometimes you have to try a number of different strategies and be prepared to quickly switch when one is not working. I also learned how much a small bunch of smart, motivated people can achieve and this has helped me in subsequent roles. Never fall into the trap of over-investing in resources when proper focus and nimbleness are all that is needed. Learning
Sciences International has gone from strength to strength, thanks to the ongoing vision of their founders – and I am proud that I played a small part in that story.

Where is next for yourself and for Huthwaite in 2012?

2012 is going to be a big year for Huthwaite, as we are releasing some major thought leadership research around sales and marketing alignment and the changes in buyer behavior. I will be deeply involved with this and with rolling out to the market on how they can meet these new challenges.

 

 

“Influencers Who Inspire” with Laura Fitton (@Pistachio)

Our influencer Q&A today is with well-known inbound marketing evangelist, Laura Fitton. Laura “@Pistachio” Fitton is the founder of www.oneforty.com, founder and principal of Pistachio Consulting, co-author of “Twitter for Dummies“ and the inbound marketing evangelist at HubSpot. We had the chance to ask her some questions about her career, her passions and what 2012 has in store for her.

Who has been the most fascinating person you have ever met?

My daughter, S. How cliched is that? She is so unlike me. She is so preternaturally gentle and wise. I watch how she is with her little sister and how she “manages” me. I learn so very much from her. Fascination is actually the perfect word to describe it. Gobloads of overwhelming maternal love, but also a great deal of fascination and respect for what is amazing and special about her.

 

What do you love most about social media? What bugs you about social media?

The humans. I love the humans, deeply, even if I don’t always express it well or understand how best to make them feel good about themselves. I love trying to help people feel more excited, become more connected and try things that they might not otherwise give themselves the chance to try.

 

As a busy mom of two, how do you prioritize?

Pretty poorly, sometimes.  One thing I do well is rotate priorities over time. For example, my kids missed out on a lot of time and attention during the crunch years of oneforty.com, and they’re getting a lot more of my time and attention now that my life is in better balance. When my childcare situation blew up at the end of February, I took it as a hint from the universe to do something I’d long dreamed of. I took a temporary 20% paycut to spend Tuesdays at home with my daughters. It’s an amazing privilege to be able to do that and I’m incredibly grateful to HubSpot for the flexibility (this alone should tell you what an amazing employer they are!). My youngest starts school full time in September, so I’m squeezing every drop out of the last few “home all day” months.

I also regret to say that I threw my (romantic) personal life completely under the train during the oneforty.com years. It was what I felt I had to do at the time, but it was probably a mistake. No biggie, lesson learned. We always grow from stuff like this. I’m really enjoying the process of establishing a new social life – both new friends and potential dates – and the cool events and activities I’m going to regularly as a part of it.

 

How do you explain your career to your children?

Some stuff – mommy had a company, mommy is at HubSpot now, etc. they know in great detail. I brought them to HubSpot’s last company meeting because it fell on my “SAHM Tuesday.” Ditto for General Catalyst’s big annual networking event. They’ve been to a number of networking events because I want them to see themselves as part of the technology, business and cultural worlds from the get go. Gratitude to Halley Suitt for encouraging me to try this years ago.

Other stuff – mostly around my “visibility” (readership, press, awards, hype about me) – they have little to no idea about, and I try hard to keep it that way. One hugely proud moment was S____ blurting out “Mommy, what’s Twitter?” in a quiet moment at a MSNerd networking event, only a couple of years ago. She knew I had a book and a company, but I try to keep that weird side of my life away from my kids. She has a vague sense of it now, but she asks “Mommy, will you share this picture of me with your friends?” with no sense of what that really means.

In general we talk about it in terms they will understand and can relate to their own lives. For example, they know about YouTube because we have watched it together for years, and they have their own YouTube channel now. But, I don’t link to or promote that channel from my social media accounts partly for privacy and partly to keep it a small, quiet place for them to explore.

 

What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far?

Hands down it’s my daughters. Period. End of story.

 

You have always spoken about the business potential of Twitter. Do you still feel as passionate about this?

Yes. Very much so. I guess I’m a lot quieter about it lately. The passion didn’t go anywhere though. My Webvisions Portland keynote, planned for May 17th, should make that clear.

 

Do you have any hobbies or passions?

Too too many! Ice hockey, yoga, horseback riding, rock climbing, gardening, pets (we have a cat, two dogs and four chickens!), amazing food, adventure and travel. I’m lucky to have had the chance to reconnect with almost all of that since the acquisition of oneforty last August.

I’m training to do my first race – of any kind – this summer with the Tough Mudder at Mt. Snow in July. Ten to twelve miles of running up ski slopes, dozens of “bootcamp” style obstacles and electroshocks at the end. Somehow seemed a fitting way to mark turning 40.

My biggest passion remains trying to help people and make a difference. Coming to work every day to spread the story of how inbound marketing helps businesses grow – and therefore creates jobs – ignites that core passion very much.

 

What is next for you in 2012?

The rate of on-the-job learning for me at HubSpot is just awesome. I’m so excited to help get the incredible work HubSpot and its customers are doing more widely known out in the world, because I know that it can help others to a tremendous degree.

It’s amazing to be at a company with 6500 customers and a marketing community of MILLIONS of people. It’s even more exciting to realize only a tiny fraction of that community realizes that we’re a software company. We’ve been so selfless in our marketing efforts for years that some huge number of people think we’re an agency.

As that changes, and marketers realize we’ve got this really HELPFUL all-in-one software, we can help even more businesses grow while stamping out crappy marketing. We think marketing can be this really noble profession that provides incredible value to those who receive marketing messages. That’s the wave of the future – selfish marketing perishes and marketing that people love helps businesses thrive.

 

 

“Influencers Who Inspire” Series continues with Alicia Eler, ReadWriteWeb

We’re happy to share another powerful interview in our “Influencers Who Inspire” series.  Today’s interview is with Alicia Eler, Reporter at ReadWriteWeb. We have always admired Alicia for her in-depth coverage of culture, tech and social media topics – things we are very passionate about here at PerkettPR. Her admiration of technology and its impact on our culture is extremely interesting, as is her experience in moving from the print publishing world to online. She also shares some great tips for PR folks in regards to “courting” journalists.

Alicia is curently a ReadWriteWeb Reporter. Before joining ReadWriteWeb, she was the Associate Editor of MoveOn.org, the Web Editor of Sylvia cartoonist Nicole Hollander’s BadGirlChats.com, and the Arts & Entertainment Community Manager for the Chicago Tribune’s ChicagoNow.com. Her arts writing has been published in Artforum.com, Art Papers, Time Out Chicago, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. She can be reached at @aliciaeler and alicia@readwriteweb.com. See her full portfolio here: http://www.aliciaeler.com

You used to cover arts and entertainment before RRW – do you look for topics that have an art or entertainment-based angle, even in the tech world?

Yes, I always look for an art and/or culture angle. I am interested in entertainment (movies, music, TV) if I can look at a larger cultural trend within. So, for example, I am fascinated by pop culture and the way Justin Bieber has become a celebrity both on social media sites (Instagram, Facebook) but also on a larger, mass media scale.

When it comes to technology, I am interested in looking at the ways it shapes culture and vice versa. We can’t think about Facebook or Twitter without thinking about celebrity; we can’t discuss communication without talking about iPhones and emoji icons. Like a cultural anthropologist, I work best when I immerse myself in the culture and space that I am trying to understand and tease apart.

I am also an excessive user of both mobile and social – I have more apps on my phone than I care to admit. I am fascinated by the culture of “free” – the fact that if we use a platform for free, we are the products. We pay for it with our information, the data that we so willingly provide. I investigate the push and pull between sharing and consuming, particularly as it relates to our increasingly networked culture. What does it mean to live a life on social networks in addition to a physical, offline reality?

How has journalism changed over your tenure in the industry? Or has it?

I started off in the print world. Back then, the idea of publishing an article online seemed both novel and silly. I got paid for what ran in print publications. That was back in 2006. Now, six years later, I write almost exclusively for the Web. As I mentioned above, I prefer to act as a cultural anthropologist working in the realm of social media.

I still write about art that happens offline when I have the time to do so – I cannot give myself emotionally to technology. It is cold, glass, wires and electricity. When I spend too much time online, I start to feel at a loss for meaningful offline relationships.

This is why I prefer to think about social media in a detached way. I see social networking sites as an experiment, not a space where I clone myself and act as me. I am “me” on Facebook.

So, as I was saying, I do write almost exclusively for the Web – but one exception is an essay I am writing about Chicago-based artist Ellen Greene.  She came to me through Peregrine Honig, an artist I have worked with over the past five years. Ellen paints raw, intricate vintage tattoo imagery on women’s hand gloves. In her work, she juxtaposes the realms of nature and culture, exploring ideas of motherhood, what it means to be a “hero,” and investigates the possibilities of personal myth making. I have been moved to tears by her work. It is what I think about when I’m not immersed in social networks. I am also fascinated by the work of Danah Boyd, who studies teen tech trends, race and class.

How do you like to be contacted? What makes a great pitch?

I prefer to be contacted either by people I know, people with whom I have mutual friends, or through some sort of smart, witty email or tweet.

I really appreciate formalities and the idea of “courting” a writer – too often I get a bunch of garbage-type press releases. I feel like people think that if they can put together a press release and blast it out to folks they know, they will get coverage. That is not true. I generally ignore or filter out press releases, especially if they are not at all personalized.

My advice to PR people is take your time, do your research and intuit when the best time to approach a writer is. I am someone who remembers everything – so when I meet someone I don’t like, I remember it as much as someone I do like.

When it comes down to it, I am fascinated by people who truly believe that their product/idea/brand is the best thing ever. I like a good salesperson as much as the next guy.

What are PR people NOT doing that they should be? What are they doing that they SHOULDN’T?

Like I said above, PR people should be doing their homework and not sending spammy press releases. Court the writer! Also please do not tell me your sad story about why you need to be covered – there is nothing more unattractive than someone who is desperate.

What do you read for journalistic/industry knowledge and inspiration?

I read Techmeme, my Facebook news feed, Twitter, Tumblr like RappersDoingNormalShit & LesbiansWhoLookLikeJustinBieber, the stuff people post on my Facebook wall. (My Facebook community is awesome!) I love Atlantic Wired, Wired magazine, Buzzfeed, Wall Street Journal Tech, New York Times’ Bits Blog, and my colleagues’ work at ReadWriteWeb. Sometimes I try not to read that much – it’s easy to get caught up in trends and what everyone else is saying. I like to meditate, too.

Do you have any secret ambitions or hobbies?

I collect owl ornaments and figurines. I believe in intuition, serendipity and kismet. In fact, Kismet is my middle name. No, seriously.

What is next for you in 2012?

Becoming ever more immersed in the social networked world, coining new terms that will define this era, meeting lots of artists and creative thinkers/visionaries, travel, hanging out with Mark Zuckerberg. (Hi Mark!)

 

Influencers Who Inspire Series – Dan Schawbel

We continue talking with some of the greatest influencers in the industry with this week’s interview with Dan Schawbel. Dan Schawbel is the founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. He is the author of the #1 international best-selling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, now in 11 languages and he has been interviewed in top publications around the world such as Inc., Fortune and TIME, among others.
 

How do you define personal branding?
 

Personal branding is the process by which you unearth what makes you special and then communicate it to the right people who would benefit from your abilities. It’s about being authentic, having a specific audience in mind, and having flexible goals. It’s about believing in yourself, marketing yourself and making a commitment to success.  Remember that the product (you) comes before the marketing (selling yourself). If you aren’t extremely good at a skill or knowledgeable on a topic, all the marketing and social media tools in the world won’t save you, they will just bring you down faster.
 

You have interviewed so many interesting people. Who has been the most surprising?
 

Out of about 650 total interviews since 2007, I would say that Hulk Hogan was the biggest surprise. He was very laid back, generous, honest and respectful. He opened up about his family, was excited that I grew up as a fan and had a lot of good career advice. He was by his pool in Florida during the interview, so that could have been part of it.
 

What do you love about living in Boston? What do you dislike about living in Boston?

I actually just moved to Boston last year. I grew up in Newton, moved to Waltham to attend Bentley University and I now live in Seaport. I like living in the innovation area because there are a lot of young entrepreneurs (people like me) and it’s an up-and-coming scene. I dislike how there’s no parking in Boston and it can be hard to get around.
 

What inspired you to write your book, “Me 2.0” and what can someone expect to gain from buying/reading it?
 

I had eight internships, seven leadership positions in student-run organizations and had my own small business in college. It still took me about eight months to land a job at EMC after going on several interviews. After a few months at EMC, I started a blog, which eventually turned into PersonalBrandingBlog.com after I read the Tom Peters’ “Brand Called You” article in early 2007. Within six months, I launched my own magazine, online video show, and wrote articles on personal branding for online sources. Fast Company profiled me for everything I had done in six months. EMC had no idea what I was doing outside of work but saw my social media abilities and recruited me internally to be the first social media specialist. This inspired me to write Me 2.0 because I was recruited based on the personal brand I had established online, instead of applying for jobs. It was a life changing experience and I captured it in my first book.
 

What are your hobbies or passions outside of work?

Work is obviously a passion of mine but I like to run, travel and meet new people as much as possible.
 

What is your favorite travel destination and why?
 

I really don’t have a favorite travel destination. I like Chicago, LA, NYC and the Bahamas. I always enjoy coming back to Boston though because I’m a big fan of the Seaport and the community here.
 

You are certainly a young entrepreneur and have done so much so early in your career.  What are you most proud of? What else do you have planned for 2012 and beyond?
 

I would say that I’m most proud of turning Me 2.0 into the #1 book in Japan, despite not knowing the language.

I started a company called Millennial Branding back in early 2010, which started off as a full-service personal branding agency and is now a Gen-Y marketing research and consulting firm. I also signed my second book deal with St. Martins Press after over three years of rejection. The book is going to come out in the Fall of 2013 and it’s focused on how to get ahead in your career when you already have a job.