Posts

There’s so much I want to learn. I wanted to write about a couple tools I use to help me write. Then, I thought more about other tools I use to help me do things. That progressed to what these tools do. That then progressed to the areas of business, especially, I want to learn more about. For fun, here are areas I would like to level up in:

  • Writing, or more specifically, copywriting. I want to strengthen my ability to, not necessarily blog, but create interest and buying intention-content. This can be in the form of long form content like white papers or shorter form of blog posts to even ads. Right now, structurally, I like to use tools like Hemingway App or Yoast SEO while I post from WordPress.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This fits real well with copywriting above. I’m not always interested in being the individual contributor for marketing collateral, but given my interest to continue building companies, largely from the ground up, I am happy to: (1) roll up my sleeves to do the work, and (2) mentor young marketers. I believe content will continue to play a big role in driving customers. Meanwhile, driving organic traffic will play a big role in that.
  • Design, specifically, photo editing and graphic design. I do a lot of graphic creation and some light photo editing for sales and marketing – collateral, website, other. I’ve developed quite a bit of know-how with PowerPoint. Folks laugh that I’m able to do so much in PowerPoint, but to do cleaner, more scalable designing, I need a better grasp for more powerful tools like Adobe Illustrator.
  • Sales, of course. I am not in a specifically sales role now at AUTIT. However, I do get pulled in often because of my background. And no matter what, I will be selling our software today, our vision, a future startup, etc. Sales is always evolving.

Most of my interests above are to help me be both a better marketing leader and individual contributor. Right now, I have the basics covered. I’m able to do well, but I’m not able to do great. Meanwhile, the ability to know how to evaluate great either as a reviewer or doer would go a long way towards ensuring what needs to get done is done well.

Next: take some formal steps to level up like a “Codecademy” type of process.

What are some areas you’d like to level up in? How would you go about leveling up?

Complementing my last couple posts about my career path, I’ve held several job titles over the years that are not progressive. Heck, they’re in several different functional areas – sales, marketing, consulting / services, solutions / product manager. And usually, my job title reflected just a sliver of what I do.

A lot of folks move from company to company, job to job for progression in the job ladder. That can be:

  • Consultant > Senior Consultant > Project Manager > Senior Project Manager > Associate Partner > Partner, etc.
  • Sales Development Representative > Account Executive > Sales Development Manager > Enterprise Sales Manager > Director of Enterprise Sales > Vice President of Enterprise Sales, etc.

My path has been:

  • Consultant (IBM) > Consultant (Chainnovations) > Senior Consultant (Chainalytics) > Head of Business Development (Body Boss Fitness – co-founded) > Managing Partner (Five Points Digital – co-founded) > Head of Sales and Marketing (SalesWise) > Solutions Architect (Autit, current company)

Clearly, my roles at startups including my own has had an “inflation” of titles. My current role looks like a clear “demotion” if anything. And yes, if anything, it is.

However, what I’ve realized is that titles right now are meaningless. Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things sheds his thoughts on titles which are largely similar to mine. Though, he goes on to talk about why they matter including for employees’ career progression, for external recognition / structure of communication, etc. However, there is so much to be done at an early-stage startup, especially, that titles are fluid. The responsibilities can be focused in specific areas, but are still largely, fluid.

My role as a solutions architect is similar to that of a product manager but also with sales engineer responsibilities. I’m employee number 7, and I am one of the most seasoned in sales, marketing, and customer success – the growth roles of a startup. We also have no marketer at the moment. So, I’m the one building the website, the collateral, engaging the PR firm – being the one-man marketing band.

Going into the role and accepting the offer, I knew I had to role up my sleeves. THAT’S EXACTLY WHY I JOINED! I wanted to have a hand in more and to get sh!t done. My experience is less about having hoity toity titles and more about getting things done to accomplish the greater goal – to build a great company.

In a company where there are so few individuals, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of things to do both on a strategic, leadership realm as well as in the individual contributor, tactical realm. I’m good with that. And truth is, there will be attrition one way or another in an early-stage startup. At this point, not all hires are going to be the right fit for what needs to be done now. Not all hires are going to know how to execute without the support and clear focus of being in a large corporate environment. Roles and the job titles that go with them will be fluid. It’s best to focus on what needs to get done and build a great company. Being the Head of Business Development means nothing if the company is unsuccessful. Trust me. I know.

Big news! I’ve joined another early-stage startup here in Atlanta called AUTIT.It’s been almost exactly three years since I started consulting with SalesWise which led to full-time employment in February 2016. But I officially close the SalesWise (and Burner Rocket) chapter in my life today as I officially start with AUTIT.

SalesWise has been a tremendous journey where I learn so much. It’s odd looking back trying to piece together if I learned as much as expected, more, or less? All I can say is that I learned in every aspect of the growth side of business – from marketing to sales to customer success. Though, we did not scale as much as we all hoped, I got to experience real, structured processes to drive growth. I got to create a whole new go-to-market strategy that became its own product and business (that was later sold – Burner Rocket). I spoke to hundreds of sales leaders and their team members and got to understand what made sales leaders successful. I got to understand what they assessed from their sales professionals. I got to work with executives from marketing to customer success. I sat in on Board Meetings and met highly successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Then again, I got to learn a lot about what did not help drive growth. I learned about misalignment in product positioning as well as the criticality of customer discovery for true pain. I learned the side effects of taking on moderate venture capital early on. I learned the traps of building based on financial proformas from a top-down rather than a bottom-up model. The careful scrutiny of burn rate was more apparent than ever.

And of course, I got to experience growing a completely new idea into a product and into an acquisition with Burner Rocket. I experienced the negotiations processes with some due diligence. Burner Rocket was successful not just for us, but for many of our customers, too. It’s now a checkmark in my many boxes for success.

I could go on and on about the incredible almost-three-year ride at SalesWise, especially talking about the relationships I’ve built and forged. However, it’s important to now translate those lessons learned and continue to forge those relationships to this next chapter at AUTIT.

I will explain how this opportunity came in a future post, but for today, I’m excited about the prospect of blending my diverse experiences into a single entity. AUTIT dramatically reduces inventory costs through data harmonization for the world’s most complex supply chains. Here, I can leverage my experiences in supply chain and consulting as the industry and personas while coupling my technology and startup experience into this new role at AUTIT. Here, I am employee number 7. I will start this journey as a Solutions Architect – building the bridge between product and growth teams. That’s simply the title to get the job requisition passed. However, I will also help handle marketing, product management, account / customer success, and be involved in the sales process. The title is focused, but my role is multi-faceted. Perfect.

It’s a good story on how I came to this day. I’ll save that for another day. For today, cheers for new chapters that continue to build on the story.