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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
great. Well, first of all, thanks so much for inviting me. This is my my pleasure, and I appreciate the opportunity. So I'm I'm Adam Park, and I'm the chief revenue officer at a software company called Target Acts. We were recently acquired by a larger software company called The Liaison International. So I'll talk about that a little bit. Um, I actually started off in college. I was a journalism major, and I was hoping to either go to journalism school to get my masters or to go to law school. And incidentally, I didn't realize how much income tax waas. So when I got out of school and got my first job, I realized very quickly I was unable to keep up with my student loans. So I ended up at a software company A to what was then called the dot com in the nineties and, uh, and sort of grew from there. And my career kind of followed that progression, and I stayed in the software industry ever since. Um, I think the biggest thing that shaped my career and and perhaps the biggest lesson was really around, taking advantage of chaos and and for those of you may not remember, but in the late nineties there was the dot com boom, which resulted in the dot com bust and followed by 9 11 and just a lot of of big ups and downs in the software world. And what I found is that when there is chaos, uh, there are opportunities. And so that every almost every one of my promotions throughout my career has really come from trying to solve problems when there was, uh, internal chaos within the business.

What responsibilities and decisions does one handle in a job like yours? What are the top three priorities? What are weekly work hours like?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
Yes. So the main responsibilities that that I have, I manage all of our sales. Eso I'm responsible for our company sales number. So how much new business we're going to close? I manage client success, which is, uh, managing our our entire portfolio of customers and making sure that that we're renewing aske close to 100% of our customers every year and then all of the activities that surround those two outcomes. So marketing, sales, support, sales training, uh, customer adoption, all of those metrics. Andi, I would say for for my job in Pre Cove it times is probably a 60 hour a week job with very heavy travel. So I spent probably almost every week on the road traveling at least a couple of days at a time. I have employees in Philadelphia, So I was in our Philadelphia office very frequently and then on customer sites and on sales calls so in during, you know, post co vid working from home. Uh, it's it's more manageable. It's probably between 40 toe to 50 hours a week. Um, it is nice not not having to travel s O. That was one of the positives of getting to work from home

What are major challenges and pain points in a job like yours? What approaches are effective in overcoming them? Discussing examples will help students learn better.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
Yeah, I think in any. So I've I've managed multiple functions throughout my career, whether it's it's sales or whether it's marketing or client, you know, support client services on by the common challenge across all is really around people, management and ultimately, whatever you're doing, whether it's delivering product or trying to sell your product, uh, you depend on people on on both sides, whether it's the buyer or the people that you lied. And eso, values and culture are are critical and people management. They're always challenges dealing with people. We're all unique in our own ways. None of us are perfect. We all bring our our personality defects, toe all of our jobs. And so Thio overcome that. I think it's really important toe have a clear set of values that you as a leader live by, but but also, um, bring to the team and make sure that everyone on the team lives by a swell. And for me, what I've always found is that transparency is super important, making sure everyone understands from very tactical things, like what each person school is and what they need to be doing. Thio be successful to being open about mistakes or failures on my part. I'm not perfect. I've made plenty of mistakes. And when I do to make sure that I own up to it and hold myself accountable and that filters and works through the entire team, um, the other challenges just work life balance. And I think whether you're a professor, whether you're an engineer, uh, it is hard to separate, uh, your life outside of work with with what happens at work. And now I'm I'm at an age where I have three kids in high school and, um, the years of them living at home are starting to become fewer and fewer. And so it's really for me. It's really important to make sure I have that balance because, ah, keeping my what I've learned is keeping myself healthy and having a healthy family life definitely impacts my ability to perform at work

How would you describe your management style? How has it evolved over the years? Can you tell about experiences or books that influenced your management style?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
uh, absolutely. And And my management style has changed significantly over the years. I think in In the earlier in my career, I was very focused on just outcomes and just making sure that that the results were there and that I had the right answers for my boss and that every week at our management meetings that I was able to say, Yes, we're successful. And the process of getting those results were less important than and what I found over time was that, um, when you're a manager, when your leader, it's not just your own employees in your own boss, uh, that are that are important in your circle, its your peers. It's the company as a whole. And so my management style, I guess, is is one where, um, I try to focus on the success of the company, and sometimes that means that I'm not necessarily doing right by my team. I may have to make compromises where my team, uh, doesn't get everything they want. And I may have to, for instance, give up budget on my team and give up open headcount so that other teams within the company can staff up and if I think that's the right thing to do, ultimately it's going to benefit my team and my department. And so I start with that as the perspective and then from a style it does go, and I keep talking about values. But for me it's really about the transparency. And it's about making sure I really think about each contributor on my team as an individual and whether they're having performance problems or they're a rock star to really keep in mind that they're human. And if they're struggling, Um, it may not just be that they're bad that they're there. It just may be that it's a bad fit and to really be creative about problem solving and tohave open and candid conversations at at all times. And so as I think about books, there are, you know, sort of the wonky or business books that I that I won't really get too deep into, um, the one that I've really appreciated. A lot as a manager is a book called Fierce Calm Conversations, and it's really just about how to communicate with those on your team, how to communicate and and it's, you know, as a parent, it's it's helped me tremendously. Thea Other book that that I found to really help both at work as well as in all facets of life is growth mindset by Carol Guac. Unfortunately, she has gotten a lot of good press and very deservedly so. But that book has been life changing for me, both in terms of how I parent Onda, how I approach my job and and how I approach my team and how I try to enter, energize and motivate the team. So those air two books that I think are just universally, uh good and then the the other one that I that I have here is a book called uh Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, which just I I I think one of the biggest challenges of of a job is is the stress of it and constantly feeling that, you know, you may not be good enough and and the self doubt and any time, if you don't have self doubt, you're just not in a challenging enough job. And one of the things that I've learned from talking to other leaders is everybody goes through what they call an imposter syndrome, where you don't feel that you're qualified to be in the position that you're in and whether you're professor, whether you're a CEO. I think all of us have gone through moments of that and learned optimism is just a great book. And it's really research around how you can really focus on growth and not fall into sort of self pity and that sort of trap of helplessness that is easy to fall into when you're under stress.

What skills and qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
Yeah, for first and foremost it zits culture and I don't want to say culture fit because culture, if it is often used as an excuse, um, Thio, you know, to continue the status quo and eso coal. And And if if you follow or subscribe to much of culture fit, then you end up without the diversity that on organization needs to be successful. So but I think about it as a values fit and again going, going to the values is, uh, the first thing I look for is, are they going to approach the job with the same values that successful employees have had? I think that's number one and number two. I don't really believe in trick questions or anything like that. One were a company where I can't grill, uh, people, because again, that's what Salesforce does. And if they're going to go through a difficult interview process, they're better off. They'll make more money going through that at Salesforce. What people are looking for is they want to know what the job is going to be like. So the questions that I ask the tasks that I ask of of candidates mirror what they would do on a day to day basis. So if I'm hiring for marketing people that have to write content, I asked them to write a lot of content. Andi one. It helps weed out people that aren't serious about the job. And two, I get to see work product. Um, if I'm interviewing for a sales candidate, I give them scenarios and asked them to prepare presentation and come pitch to me and others on my team so I can see how they handle those type of situations. If there are solutions Consultant, which in the software world or are the people that demo software? I asked them to demo some software, and I I see you know, how do they present? Are they able to explain difficult technical concepts easily? And so I try to spend as much time them seeing what or me seeing what they would be doing day to day and them also being exposed? Thio how I would interact with them on a day to day basis

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you feel good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
Yeah, I've had, uh, fortunately, I've I've had several career accomplishments. I've certainly had career failures. A swell, I think they go hand in hand. Um, the latest career accomplishment is really this merger or this acquisition of target X by by a larger software company. And so for those of you familiar with how professional investors work, Target X was funded by a private equity firm, which means there's a now outside group that owns the company. And they are looking to grow the company and help the company, uh, expand and increase their revenues. And eventually they sell the company so that they can return money back to their investors. And so we recently were acquired by a larger company. And that was really just, uh, uh, validation for all the people at at Target acts that they had done a good job growing the business and had built to really sustainable, exciting business that a much larger company was wanted to invest in. And so it meant good returns for our investors and a really good home for us as a company to now get more resource is and and to be able to continue to grow even more so. That's the latest, um, accomplishment. And and the challenges were many its's in in the earlier days. It's How do you you have limited resource is you have competitors that are constantly improving their products. It's Where do you invest your time, energy and money? Uh, to beat the competition and and to grow? And it's again, it's zits, always just making small adjustments with every interaction. Every every time you win or lose a sales deal toe, learn from it and to feed that back into your process to mature the business. So in the early days, you know you don't have a lot of metrics toe work with, but as you grow, you want to make sure that things air repeatable and so really focusing on, how do we keep repeating the things that are helping us be successful and fix the things that aren't

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle? What were the top three priorities and pain points? What strategies were effective in dealing with challenges?

Based on experience at: Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Exponent Partners
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
and so so prior to this, I managed the sales and marketing of AH, software consulting firm. So a very different business in that Target X has a product. We go out to schools and we try to convince them that they're going to improve, uh, their jobs and their outcomes by using our software at exponents Partners. Uh, we were going into organizations and trying to figure out what problems they had and custom developing software to solve those problems. And so the responsibilities were largely similar, uh, marketing, trying to bring attention, thio our our services and then selling to make sure that we were the better fit than than our competition. And the biggest difference was without a product. You're really selling a vision. Thio Thio, every customer. And so in that role, it was really, really important that people were credible because you're really selling people when you're selling consulting. So the profile of the people that I was hiring was different. Um, I really needed to think about who Who are we selling to and what do we what type of people and knowledge do they need tohave to be credible to the people who make these decisions. And so hiring was number one. Um, the one marketing difference was because we were a consulting firm. Partnerships were really, really important. So thinking about what are the other technologies that are being used, uh, at the types of organizations we want to sell into. And how do we partner with those technologies to get our foot in the door and to sell our our services to expand on the technologies that they're already using? So that exploded partners, for example, we did salesforce consulting on duh Expanding sales force is a software that many organizations use and we sold services toe, help, configure and expand sales force to fit their business. And so we partnered very closely with Salesforce. We partnered with other Salesforce partners that may already be in the customer sites that we wanted and work with them. Thio get in

What college programs did you attend and what were their best parts? How did each of your college programs prepare you for your career?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
Yeah, again, I I started off as a journalism major, and I would have never thought that I would be selling software and leading teams of people that are there selling software. And so my undergraduate degree was in media studies and journalism on DSO. Surprisingly, it's been really, really relevant in that it provided sort of frameworks for critical thinking and about positioning. Um, certainly, the field of journalism is much more interesting and more diverse today with social media and all of those things. But the big theme of, uh, media bias media filters are all things that that I studied in in the in the nineties. And those are all things that are really important for selling, which is how do you position, ah, message and how do you get that message to the people? Um, that you need to hear that message and how do you want them to interpret that? And and those were skills from from journalism that that I was able to bring to my job. And then I also went thio to business school. And surprisingly, uh, from a academic or skill standpoint, I didn't learn a lot in business school and I think that's something you'll hear from from a lot of people who go to business school. But the but the networking, the people that you get to meet and and being exposed to leaders. Onda having guest speakers having professors who are who are top of their fields was just invaluable then. I still keep in touch with some of those professors and certainly a lot of my classmates who I turned to for advice and and things like that all the time.

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? If any, please also discuss your experiences facing adversity, or trying something unusual.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
Yeah, And I guess this is how I It's a way to bring in how I started with the first question, which is, uh, the first lesson was really that with chaos comes opportunity and that if if you don't like your job, then don't complain about it, but try to just solve problems, Look around for other problems you want to solve. And I started my career, um, doing customer support and saw that there were other needs in the company that needed to be filled. Um, I there were common questions that I would get, and I'd walk over to developers and and tell them about the problem, explained the problem, and they would fix it. And eventually I wanted to learn how they were fixing it. And and then I was ableto get a job actually fixing the code and started off a za developer. And that, you know, I found other problems, um, that I was able to help solve. So I think with chaos there's just always an opportunity. And at startups in particular, there's always chaos. You never have enough resource is, And so the lesson I learned is find the biggest problems that will impact the business and try to help solve them. A second one has to do with the growth mindset, which is, uh, things just aren't easy. And there are a lot of times where, um it's just, uh the job's just socks. I have a sales number I need to meet and deals they're falling through or Cove. It happens and nobody wants to buy anything. And and I think you know, the two things I've learned there is to be vulnerable Thio Except that that's okay and also have a growth mindset and to figure out okay, I failure is okay. What am I gonna learn from it? What can I be doing differently? And how doe I, most importantly, how do I keep my team motivated and to make sure that they're continuing to perform um and the third has, you know, similarly just has to do with managing stress, which is just that if you want to be the best leader, uh, you have thio take care of your yourself. You have to get enough sleep. You have thio diet and have a good diet and exercise. And I didn't believe any of that stuff in my twenties and and certainly as I've gotten older uh, it Z it matters. And, um and I know that when I'm eating well, getting enough sleep and have, you know, a positive things happening at home. And I'm taking care of my relationships, whether it's with my wife, my friends, my kids, that I bring the right energy to my job. And when those things aren't in, aren't in the right alignment, then I'm not the best leader, so those that it's all connected. None of us are robots. We're all we're all humans. So taking care of yourself is the best thing to do for job job performance.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
I would say the most important thing is just to learn as much as you can in any situation that you're in. And and the reality is, people, uh, try toe overthink what their first job should be. And I always say, um, in time, you're going to be ableto look backwards and connect the dots. You're always going to be able to weave a story, so don't stress too much about what your next job should be or what your first job should be. Think about your priorities. Do you need thio optimize for money? Uh, do you need Thio to work, find work somewhere that's close to campus? Or do you have home commitments that where you can't have two hour commute? There are practical implications, and I think early on the best thing to do is to find a job that balances your financial needs with you know, something that you will enjoy a little bit. Nobody. Nobody loves their first job. Uh, the most important thing is to build skills, and what you'll find is that as you and I think, this is something Mark Cuban says a lot, which is once you get good at something you will enjoy doing that. And I think for for those of us that are a little bit older, Uh, that's certainly been true. I've done a lot of different things. I've spent the 1st 10 years of my career never selling anything. And now I'm really passionate about the craft of sales because I've learned and gotten better at it. So, um, to kind of wrap up that answer, I would just say, Find the opportunity, Uh, that's find any opportunity that you can get. But whatever you dio, make sure you have a growth mindset and that you learned as much as you can, even if your job is terrible. Look around, learn from those around around you find mentors. I I think that would actually be. My biggest recommendation is when you're in your early twenties, there's or early in your career. There's a small window where you can go out and just seek out mentors and people will be open to it. Once you get mid career, it's a lot more difficult, but those mentors are going to be people that will help you throughout your career.

How did you set the scope for your minimal viable product? How did you get to product-market fit? How did your product evolve over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
sure, And I think this goes back to values. We as a company are our executive team. Uh, spent ah lot of time really trying to articulate what our values are, and by values, I mean, how we're going to behave as leaders and what we expect from everyone in the company. And, you know, I've I've been a company's where somebody wrote a value statement at some time, and it was on the walls of all of our offices, but no one ever really looked at it. Um, we at a target x have changed our values four times because as we've grown, we wanted to constantly think about what was important and and how we wanted Thio do business. And from from that perspective, the way we came about our product was we set out on a vision and our vision and as context. What target X does is we provide software for admissions offices at college campuses to be able to recruit students so much in the same way that many of you were recruited and engaged with with your schools before you major deposit and showed up on campus on on the first day. All of that software we create and we try to be, you know, the best provider of that software for schools. So what? What we started with was was a big vision, Andi, to get schools excited about the idea that their job is to find the best students that are the best fit for their programs so that they could be successful and that the mission of higher ed, which is to transform lives, uh, that they can deliver on that and much as each of you want and should have a great experience. And by the time you graduate, uh, should really that experience should be life altering. It should help you launch into your career and to really help you be successful in life. And so that was the vision we set out with, and obviously we didn't have all of the pieces. But we had a general idea of what impact we wanted tohave on schools. And so we brought in a pilot set of customers. We discounted heavily. We really got them excited about being a partner, and we started out with an M V p, some core solutions. And then we work with our partners to fill the gaps. And it was, you know, it's not a smooth process with with any type of software. Early on, uh, there there are a lot of bugs. There are a lot of misinterpreting requirements, but because of our values and our commitment to our customers, we kept trying to get better and better and better. And eventually, as our products matured, that helped us grow.

Who were your early users? What marketing channels, approaches, and marketing tools did you use to contact users? What worked and what didn't?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
Yeah, it was. It was sort of your very classic, um, market penetration and and growth. And And there was an old concept from the nineties called Crossing the Chasm, which was really about, you know, you have your early adopting customers Who are your your innovators, the people that want their hands on the latest and greatest. And they're willing to accept bugs and a nim perfect solution in order Thio get ahead of their competition. So early schools, Uh, we're just that they were schools that were willing to experiment and really wanted, um, something new to help with their recruiting. And so initially it was It was all word of mouth. And from a marketing standpoint, we really focused on thought leadership. And so rather than promoting our software, we we really promoted the advancement of the field, meaning rather than telling schools how great our software was, we were trying to compile best practices for schools and to help schools, for example. A good example is 10 years ago, most schools sent one piece of email and one piece of mail to everybody. Regardless of who you were, everyone got the same messaging. Everyone got the same brochures and what our software really help schools do is to segment and target and and hence the name target X on DSO. We try to educate the market and say, Listen, you're going to find your students better if you are sending out messaging that's relevant to them. So if a student is interested in engineering, don't send them, uh, just generic information about, uh, about liberal arts degrees really targeted Thio what your students are interested in. And so our marketing approach was really about how do you improve what you're doing? Azzan Admissions office and less about the technology. And over time, as we became a trusted brand and as as enrollment leaders came to us for content, uh, they naturally gravitated toward our technology, and that's still the marketing approach that that we take today.