LeadMD CEO & Founder
University of Arizona - Eller College of Management Bachelor of Science in Business, Marketing
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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 Tue Jul 28 2020
comprehensive question. Um, so I guess I'll start near the beginning. So I'm one of the few people that is in marketing that actually with the school for marketing. I can't say that that schooling necessarily influences much of what I do day today, because marketing has changed so radically in the last decade, decade and 1/2. But I graduated with a marketing degree, went to work at a bunch of marketing jobs that I absolutely hated. And then through just happened. Stands got exposure to the start up world, and that's really where I discovered what I think. I've been looking for all of my life at that point, which was kind of the ability to do a lot of different things in a really rapidly evolving environment. So I joined a payments technology company as their marketing director, moved up to VP of marketing to eventually took over sales and and became the vice president, sales marketing there and eventually had an exit within that business on and thought that I would just kind of hang out for a year and go travel ended up hanging out for three days when three organizations over the course of the of that week, reached out and asked if I could do it. I felt like joining them. Want to come on board? And I said I wasn't really looking Teoh get a W two anymore, but I would come on as a consultant. And so that's where lead MD, which is really my primary adventure these days, was born from. It was an accidental business for me, and we've grown that to just over currently $13 million. Um, and that was 10 years ago, so that's kind of the the accidental way that I fell into owning a marketing agency.

Can you walk us through your first few weeks, especially challenges, when you started working as a consultant? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
I think the value that I've always brought as a consultant is the ability to roll up my sleeves. So, like I was doing fractional CMO work. But also implementing salesforce dot com and marketing on this automation system called Marcato on. And I was doing those concurrently, right? Like so advising on really to go to market strategy of the business. How are we gonna, uh, engaged buyers how we're gonna onboard them? What was our customer life cycle? Gonna look like, and at the same time building those processes into a software layer. So that was, you know, my my vision as as a consultant and in starting a consultancy simply because I wasn't able to find that in other organizations. And so in the early days, I was servicing all of those clients on my own out of my spare bedroom at my house and really just kind of waking up E in East Coast clients a waking up very early and and and signing off super late at night cause I had clients in California as well. So in those early days, it was really just about trying to find the time in each day to dedicate each one of those clients

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools or services more than the others? Why?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
we since the early days when I started bringing on employees. And this is 2009 right? So marketing automation is not really a thing yet. Certainly there are no methodologies or frameworks at that point, So we product ized everything we product ized how to build out a lead scoring model, how the build out lead, nurturing how toe technically set up a marketing automation tool. And so all of those milestones, in effect, had a list of tasks that were associated to them with dependencies and so forth. So product ization has has always been kind of a cornerstone to to training new talent, getting out everyone up to speed with a degree of consistency. With that and as we've grown, we've started tackling things that are not as rigid and and regimented. So creating a go to market strategy for a client, for example, like that's very difficult to build into a milestone with, you know, task that you have to follow in a very rigid manner. Eso As things have evolved over time, we've taken more of that framework approach, giving enough guidance so that we get that consistent output in that we're serving the needs of the client. But at the same time, it allows for for, you know, some leeway for the consultant working on that project to implement their own. It engaged their own imagination and creativity. Eso definitely frameworks are incredibly important to this day. I find that they're also very valuable from a sales and marketing standpoint. Everyone wants to see how you do something in that visual representation is is very powerful. From a software standpoint, we've always been absolutely just committed to the fact that we are going to use the same platforms that we consult around. And so, even as a business with three employees again, 8 4009 we were using enterprise class software were using salesforce dot com. We were using more Caddo were using DOC you Side way had integrated all of these platforms together. These days we have over 60 different platforms that we used to run this business on git gives us kind of that sandbox and just the space to play and understand those technologies before we consult on them for our clients

What are the profiles of your clients? What kind of projects do you handle? What skills are needed in these projects?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
change a bit. I would say that they are any organization with 25 million in revenue, arm or from an annual basis is a potential fit for us. There are a number of industries that reserve, uh, from a ah highly repetitive standpoint simply because they tend to be first movers and early adopters, technology, software, hardware organizations, health care, manufacturing, finance and banking. Um, those tend to be our big concentrations. But over the course of last 10 years, we've literally done engagement in any sort of industry that exists out there. Nonprofits, retail, e commerce. We've had some exposure toe pretty much everything. And so what really becomes the definition of a good client for us is what we call the presence of a catalyst. Someone that wants toe transform a business they want. They want to precipitate change. That's oftentimes the new CMO coming on board. Ah, merger, acquisition. The the advent of a new product line, something is, is creating that catalytic moment there, and this person wants to champion that to get better as an organization. So that's that's who we think of as our best clients. Certainly 25 billion in up most of my clients are in the 150 to 500 million range, with some fortune 10 folks sprinkled in there as well, but that that presence of the catalyst is the most important we are. We are best when we're handling everything from a marketing standpoint in a holistic manner, so helping them either set their go to market strategy or optimize their existing all the way down into doing exactly what we were doing in those early days, which is operationally implementing those strategies and processes and then optimizing over time. So a typical project for us is were brought in for some of those strategic aspects. Ah, claim I'm thinking of right now brought us in. There are $100 million organization. They want to get to a 1,000,000,000 that wouldn't go public, and they know that they buyer that they served for those 1st 100 million is gonna be different between their next phase of growth. So we help them redefine that ideal customer profile, help them understand what that those buying life cycles are the buying committees. What messaging is gonna compel those individuals, how you need to communicate to them and through what channel and then even into the sales playbook, help them organize and create processes around all those elements. And then we built that into technology that they either already had or we help them implement. So kind of that end to end approach works best for us because we can. We can optimize each one of those elements to ensure that we've got the performance at the end that were really a Manhattan, and that's kind of what I would I would quantify that statement with. We are a performance marketing consultancy. We want to move the needle. We want to know what is that goal? Is it revenue? Is that lifetime value? Is it product penetration? And then we want to measure work against that ultimate out.

How do you reach out to potential clients? What are the roles of people you reach out to? What are their typical concerns and how do you address them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
again are almost address that in a reverse manner there, so are typical. Client is normally concerned with nonperformance, right? Like they're not meeting their number or their predecessor didn't meet their number. Um, and they're very concerned with marketing being looked upon as a revenue engine. They want to prove that a dollar in equals $5 out on normally, uh, in fact, all all of our client engagements they've seen something that they perceived to be a blocker to establishing. Ah, that that revenue engine, we helped them also assess and look back at areas that they may have missed. So that client is is trusting us not only to solve the problem they came to us with, but they're allowing us the freedom, freedom to look for other problems that may exist that they may not be aware of. Our exposure to those clients normally comes as a result of by by far Number one channel is partners. So we have ah, host of great software partners as well as just other providers within the industries that we operate within. That will make introductions to us because they know the level of work that we perform. They know what we dio. They know the problems that we solved, and so they'll they'll provide. Those introductions, as we've grown, are our previous customer referral channel has almost become a large. Is that partner referral channel. So in marketing, the average 10 year tends to be between two and three years, and then someone is changing jobs, not always within that same company. And so, as as our clients have have kind of hopped around and moved within the industry, they brought us with them as well, which, I think is, is probably the number one testament to the quality of work that we provide.

What are the roles of client's employees you routinely work with? What are the challenges in working with them? What approaches help to overcome challenges?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
the typical roles that we work with range. Anyone from a CMO, which is CEO CMO tend to be some of our best engagements because they have the authority on the Leeway Toe to create real change all the way down to the practitioner level. If we are engaged with those practitioners, it tends to be more of a point solution approach. Help us implement this, help us optimize this one thing. And that really is. You know, although those could be great projects to work on, that is a challenge. Because rarely do you solve for that one area and have that truly be what is going to generate results. Right lot of people by technology, thinking it's gonna be this watershed moment for them when in fact they don't have the dependencies in line to really allow that technology to work. That's the premise that we built the business on. We can implement this, but it needs to be fed by great process. Great planning, great strategy, great content. Marketing is all about dependency is if you want toe, you know anyone Point item s CEO, pay per click content, any sort of channel that you can list out there is is not. The success of that is not indicated by that single channel. It's indicated by everything that you put into that channel. Is it right place? Right person, right time that comes from the integration of all of those dependencies. Self. When we're again, we're able to address that Holistically were much more successful. Weaken, drive those really big results and we're we do drive some really impressive results for clients. We're talking about tens of tens to hundreds of millions of dollars within 91 2180 days from a campaign basis. In some instances and again your final question. They're like the biggest challenge that we have selling those solutions is exposure. If they're not going to give us access to solving the root problem and we're assault were stuck solving that pain. It's really difficult to generate true impact at that level, and therefore a lot of our process from sales to delivery is all about getting exposure and building trust so that someone will kind of open that kimono and allow us to do what we

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

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
Yeah, So it we've been fortunate enough to be hiring in this space for again over a decade. What we look for today is in no way similar to what we look for in the beginning, I can say that we had no idea what we were looking for it in the beginning of this business. So we were predominantly little looking for job titles, you know, show me. Ah, someone has been a marketing director in the software industries. Oh, that person worked at Google, they're going to be great. Um, it was kind of all about that historical, uh, element. And although that's good, I think the organizational environmental situations that someone's been a part of our are powerful signals. They're not the most powerful signal. So what we tend to look for these days are someone that is, ah, lifelong learner. They're curious. They have hobbies outside of their day job. They don't go home and sit on the couch for the rest of the evening. Um, they're curious. They're exploring they again. They they've got multiple areas of their life where they're interested, and they're just driven toe to know more someone who's empathetic. So when he is truly stand in the shoes of of our clients. In fact, that's one of our core values. We stand in your shoes. They can understand why this is important to them. They could understand what happens if they don't achieve this and they can. They can commit there there. Did they work based on knowledge that they're in control of, in many ways, that person's career path that we're consulting for? Um, that's kind of rounded out by someone who is, you know, frankly, a high achiever. They want to succeed. They probably put more pressure on themselves than we do as an organization. And so when you kind of triangulate those those three elements there and then top it off with the someone that wants to work with other interesting and fun people, um, that kind of tends to be the the right mix there. Of course, there are specializations that we have to find we're hiring for go to market or rev ops or tech and data the need that experience there. But But that's kind of table stakes. The items that I mentioned are really what defines whether we re hire some wondered

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 Tue Jul 28 2020
my biggest career accomplishment is, is supporting the vast web of individuals that I do today. You know, I think about each one of our employees. I think about where we've taken them in their career path, not only from a compensation level, although I can say that with in Arizona are compensation levels are literally trend setting right, like their industry setting, we compensate our people very well. But we also give them exposure, toe education, learning certifications, anything that they want to achieve. We will fund those items. And then I think about the spider Web of impact that that creates rate like their families, that their acquaintances, their friends, their extended family, those air people that are now being supported by an entity that I created. And that's certainly what I'm most proud of over the course of my career, which spans lead, MD and beyond. I've created 15 millionaires that that that's not just ah ah ah accomplishment from a monetary figure. But that's the impact that they're now able to accomplish. Everything from. They could now go in a direction with their career or their life. That was not possible before. Maybe they're worried about you know, bills or taking a job just to keep the lights on. Now they can make a decision that that really falls in line with their passion and do something that there are are passionate about. Um, so that's certainly the accomplishment that I feel the most connected Teoh and that was born out of my own situation like I was. You know, I know what it feels like to go to a job that you hate going to the dread of Monday Toe County. Our hours until 5 p.m. On and that change in my life sold became as a result of getting someone taking a chance on me, putting me in a position and saying a You've got the autonomy toe build this department and there is this company in accordance with what you see is is best. And if you succeed in that way, here's the reward. Net reward comes in the form of equity. Everyone at lead Andy has a piece of this company that they own B R R equity program. So I've really tried to take those opportunities that were afforded to me and grant those down

How has the demand for certain skills and technologies changed in your field? What kind of consultancy work or jobs would see big growth in the upcoming years?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
our entire, you know, digital list. The same marketing, right? Like marketing is our industry. Um, the skill sets there have evolved in the last 10 years. 180 degrees. When I first got in the marketing, it was vendor management, right? Like we we had a creative agency, we had a media agency. We had maybe a TV, radio and billboard agency. We had all these different vendors that we work with on a daily basis. When the Web came in, we had a web design agency. Right. Slowly, all those functions have been pulled in house, which again has created the need for consultants like us. Because when you're managing vendors all day and then suddenly now someone wants you to build their email and landing page template and write a message and get it out the door and serve it up through paper. Click those air skill sets that have to be learned over time and often come as a result of a formal education. Ah, a lot of marketers Didn't you know that they're not in that position. Their career changed overnight with the advent of technology, so that certainly opened the door for organizations like us. It's opened the door for folks that have learned on the job and they become CRM experts, marketing automation, expert sales enablement technology experts. We've opened up the door for all these specializations that air just so interesting. Now someone that you know. If you have more Keto on your resume, you will get gobbled up like this, right? Like there's a shortage of talent out there. So we've also created like these these high, highly in demand. Ah, focus is that you know people. A za results a covert, for example, like we saw a lot of furlough, a lot of attrition on. And the folks that had technology certifications and experience on those platforms found new jobs that week. You know, a couple weeks no longer than a month. Eso that's the demand that's been created out there as a result of all of this influx of technology and just, you know, content writing goes into that as well. Message, assembly, campaign understanding and strategy. Everything's being done inside of a company at this point, so either they're relying on their employees or they're relying on consultants like us and certainly the employees. The more economical angle. So if you've if you've got the the drive and can get the exposure to those technology platforms, that's the best way to create stickiness, certainly within your own career, and open up additional opportune.

What responsibilities and decisions does one handle in a job like yours? What are the challenges? What strategies are effective in dealing with these challenges?

Based on experience at: Founding Partner, Graymatter Ventures
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
Green Matter is my investing arm, So I do angel everything from angel funding to participating in In Siris A's. I've also become a part of an organization called Stage to Capital, where I funded a lot of gray matters investments through that larger VC firm because I can work with with other. You know, my money pulled with their money is just more impactful, right? The charge and the challenge of my day to day is obviously not to lose my money on. That means making smart investments in companies that are providing mission critical solutions. And I think the covert world has given us a great optic into what is mission critical. Right? You saw software providers that we're collecting big cheques and consultancy is that we're collecting big cheques. Suddenly, they were pushed out the door, right, because the the services they were providing, they couldn't you know that the client couldn't tie back to revenue or whatever that key optic was for them. So I think that's that's what I try to focus on through that investing arm. But more even more particular than that is focusing on the entrepreneur, the head, the founder of that organization. I find that great founders, even if they fail, they're gonna come out with a new idea that could come out with the new solution. They're gonna learn from that pivot that business, You're going to see them again. And so I'd like to think that I invest in people and not businesses, because I I want to form that relationship long term with that individual and and, you know, see those successes and sometimes failures. But I want to see them get up and

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
Yeah, I think you hit it there with last point. Um, first, even even though I tend toe to talk a bit disparagingly about my marketing degree, the environment through which that degree was was obtained was hypercritical for me as an individual. I mean, there's the really basic things like, you know, being out of the house for the first time and living on your own and taking mass transportation, everything that goes into Oh, wow, I'm I'm an adult right now. I think that's so important. If you don't get that through school, you get their travel or get through, get it someplace. You have to learn how to be self sufficient and and all the critical elements that go into that. But the environment of school, I think, was was incredibly impactful. The things from deadlines toe working in groups to, you know, being autonomous on a project and being responsible for that that element of the project and then bringing that in and and integrating that with the you know, the rest of the group of a group project, like we did a lot of cool things that were kind of extra in ship focused, especially in my senior year by 400 year at You Obey to where we would go partner with a local charity. It's local car dealership and put on an event. And that really world experience was was absolutely transformative. It allowed me to go into postgraduate things like internships and kind of have a leg up in that regard because I knew, you know, basic stuff like email etiquette and you know how to get people on the phone and how to crack through, like admin barriers and things of that nature. So I think that real world experience, especially as it's brought in to it ah, schooling environment where you know a professor, an instructor can kind of help you navigate those pathways. And Salon is incredibly important. I also, even though it's not directly related to the question internships and and just any sort of mentorship exposure that folks come get. I think that's that's where you put those conceptual learnings into play and you get a whole new exposure to to a set of skills that are even more critical on the job. And that's just that on on the job learning

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Jul 28 2020
I've probably the most predominant lesson I've learned is that the world is both a very large and very small place at the same time. So critical. Teoh. Get out form new relationships get. You know, Say hello to people. Ask the time on people's calendars. Be be passionate and be driven toe to go out there and learn from other people. And at the same time, if you burn a single bridge, you will. You will meet that person again so that the largest asset that I say this over and over again relationships of the currency of success the more you can meet people, you can make it. Those impressions, you can foster a relationship. Ah, the more you'll be able to help that person and the more they will help you in return. And it you know, I've said that people in the past they say, like, Well, you're you know, is that Is that a perverse incentive? Are you only trying to get things out of people like No, You obviously want to befriend people and have relationships of people that are interesting and that fulfill you and make you a better person. And naturally, as a result, you will both get value from that relationship. In fact, if you're not, that's a that's a poor relationship. Anytime something is one sided and you're only asking someone for something like you have to be generous. But certainly with your time and in any other way that you can as well. Um, you know, early on in my career, kind of getting to the point of the question around, like sure, a real world example. Um, you know, I learned very quickly that again, if you burn that bridge, that not only have you have you eliminated the spider Web effect of that relationship, but other people are gonna hear about that, they're gonna be influenced by it. Like if you're having fall outs in your career just over and over again, you know, maybe the problems you are, at least that's what people are gonna perceive, Right? And so I had a number of clients early on to where you know, we would get into a disagreement on something and I would go to the contract immediately. And, you know, when I went to legal with them, that was just absolutely dumbfounded. But so many people knew about this situation, and we're like, Oh, you you still in that court case against So in self? Um, and it became very evident very quickly. Like I could have handled this in a totally different manner. You know, I could have taken the approach of Hey, let's work this out. Let's resolve it right? Like what? There's nothing out there that you can't ultimately communicate and and sold for. Instead, I just said, Hey, they're in the wrong. This is what I'm gonna do to to write that. And I learned very quickly, like you. You know, all the old, uh, idioms and adages air. True, right? Like you attract more more bees with honey than then you do with vinegar. So, um, I've seen that Just admit, you know that opportunity many times in my life and and I always tried to choose the path that's going to keep the relationship intact.

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 Tue Jul 28 2020
job. I think a lot of people while they're in school and you know all the way freshman year, like start early, get an internship. Don't look for paying, you know? Hey, if it's if it's a big, long shot like high growth organization, great people working there like it's worth the investment, it's worth the time to to ask, you know, Hey, I don't need compensation for this. I just want to be involved in interesting projects. I want to be involved in in projects. That air are gonna move the needle here that they're going to be key to the business Reach out to people like that are higher than you would expect to reach out to. I run into that objection all the time. Like, how do I get access to you? Know this? Vice president, the CEO, Even this founder sentiment email. You know, look for a common relationship sentiment email. I never turned down an email that comes to me that says, Hey, I would love to get some time in your calendar, like I just want to know how X, y and Z works or what you know. Can you give me some advice? I think most people are very generous with their time. Certainly, if they can see that that person is passionate and is respectful and driven, they're willing to make that investment. So, I would say is many of those those types of interactions. Find a mentor, find some great internships while you're in school. That will catapult you once you are into the the actual job market. Certainly, you know, And if you're in marketing or or even a lot of other industries these days, if you can get some software knowledge, there is so much software just being vomited into these spaces that there are over 6500 different pieces of marketing technology today. There is no way that there is enough talent to fill those needs. So if you can get access to how you do things within an organization is great toe. Just strategize. We need strategy. We need big ideas. We need creativity. But if you can pivot, turn the chair around and build something. At the end of the day, you will be able to replace to people's jobs three people's jobs, because now you're that Swiss army knife of of skill set so that served me very well. I want to replace an entire marketing department because I could do every single thing that was being done internally there. So I think that's a pretty valuable skill. Like again, focus on the access and try to get more exposure to.