August 08, 2023

AIOps Marketing: Make yourself uncomfortable (podcast episode #66)


I had a dynamic conversation with Avi Bhagtani, CMO, Digitate, in episode #66 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast.

Listen now to hear Bhagtani discuss career development, finding your passion, and taking risks in your career.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

AIOps Marketing: Make yourself uncomfortable (podcast episode #66)

The How I Made It In Marketing podcast is underwritten by MECLABS Institute, the parent organization of MarketingSherpa. Join us for an AI Guild session Wednesdays at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Learn more at

We often talk about product-market fit. But what about marketer-role fit?

You could be an amazing marketer in many ways, but in the wrong role, you will be constantly swimming upstream, expending all your energy on the inconsequential.

However, in the right role…ahh, it’s just gliding along, putting your strongest skills to your highest and best use.

Which is why a lesson from this episode’s guest is so important, “stay true to yourself in your career.”

You’ll hear the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson-filled stories from Avi Bhagtani, CMO, Digitate.

Bhagtani manages a global team of 18.

Digitate is a startup of 800 people that has been in business for eight years. The company leverages AI and automation to transform digital operations.

Listen to our conversation using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.

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Stories (with lessons) about what he made in marketing

Some lessons from Bhagtani that emerged in our discussion:

Stay true to yourself in your career

Throughout Bhagtani’s career, he learned not to take a job simply because it’s a job. Gone are the days where we have to take the first opportunity that comes our way. Rather, it’s important to believe in our own career—to choose a role that makes an impact and aligns with our values. Now, even when he takes on advisory roles, he joins companies that have a mission he is passionate about and that matter to him.

Having passion in your career and for the company you work for allows you to be more creative and authentic – both of which are critical aspects of marketing.

Make yourself uncomfortable

When Bhagtani was in his first engineer managing role, he was on a large team, with over 100 people. At the time, his family lived in a beautiful home in North Carolina, and it was easy for them to stay comfortable and continue living there—life was good as it was. But something was missing. He wasn't making the kind of impact he felt he could make.

So, he took a chance and moved to California, restarting their entire life, and it was the best decision they could make. While there is nothing wrong with feeling comfortable with where you’re at, he always tells his employees to make themselves uncomfortable and try to do something different, because the status quo is never going to help you grow.

Move fast and take risks

We are in the era of hyper-innovation that is based on two primary parameters: move fast and take risks. Some of the best organizations and people regrettably fail in the world of cutthroat and disruptive innovations. So, what should the response to failures be? Too often, the response is to abandon the idea and move on to the next new thing.

But Bhagtani has always believed that failure doesn't always mean that the original path was incorrect. It could just mean that there is a pivot needed – or a small tweak here or there. And if you believe in the vision of what you set out to achieve, then success or failure is not the goal, it's part of the journey, and the people who embark on this journey will not only enjoy the ride but continue to the path to success.

Lessons (with stories) from people he collaborated with

Bhagtani also shared lessons he learned from the people he collaborated with.

Best your best and own the role you are in

via Michael Hurlston, CEO of Synaptics

Hurlston has been a phenomenal mentor to Bhagtani. He always pushed Bhagtani to best his best and own the role he was in, even though he was quite young at the time. People like Hurlston have had a profound influence on Bhagtani’s career and his life.

“As the environment changes, so must your strategy.”

via Peter Brews, Dean of the Darla Moore School of Business

Brews was one of Bhagtani’s MBA professors at the University of South Carolina. Brews always used to kick off their strategy class sessions with the statement, “as the environment changes, so must your strategy.” Peter taught Bhagtani that it can be good to throw enough caution to the wind and see where we land.


via Akhilesh Tripathi, CEO at Digitate

Tripathi has been an inspiring mentor to Bhagtani. Oftentimes, it’s easy for Bhagtani to grow impatient with all the projects and pending deadlines they have going on at once. But he hasn’t learned patience from anyone more than he learned from Tripathi.

Related content discussed in this episode

Customer Experience: Take risks, fail early, and learn fast (podcast episode #32)

Marketing: It’s not about you, and when you make it about you, you are never going to succeed (podcast episode #53)

Public Sector Marketing and Communication Leadership: Multi-directional learners, multi-colored spiky hair, and wearing multiple hats (podcast episode #31)

About this podcast

This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.

Podcast guest application

If you would like to apply to be a guest on How I Made It In Marketing, here is the podcast guest application.

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Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our discussion.

Daniel Burstein: We often talk about product market fit, but what about marketer role fit? You can be an amazing marketer in many ways, but in the wrong role. You'll be constantly swimming upstream, expending all your energy on the inconsequential. However, all in the right role, it's finding your flow state, putting your strongest skills to your highest and best use.

Which is why a lesson from a recent podcast guest application is so important. Stay true to yourself in your career. You'll hear the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories from my next guest. Joining me now is Abubakar Thani, the CMO of Digital. Thanks for joining me, Avi.

Avi Bhagtani: Thanks. I'm really happy to be here and appreciate you giving me the opportunity.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. So let's take a quick look your role. I love learning from people who've started it in other industries and other role and then moved into marketing. They usually can teach us so much. So you actually started as a Software Development Engineer. You went to work as an Engineering Manager and then you switched into marketing. You worked their way up to Head of Product Marketing for North America and to be at a company.

But right now you are the CMO of Digitate. Digitate is a startup of 800 people that has been in business for eight years, and Avi manages a team, a global team of 18. So Avi, give us a sense what is your day like as CMO of Digitate?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah, no, thanks for the intro, Daniel. Like I said, like you mentioned Digitate is a provider of Ai-Powered enterprise software for I.T. and business operations, right? So basically what we are is a very fast paced, disruptive company. And so typically the day starts with a read out of what's happening in the market, right? The top things happening.What are the customers responding to? What are our competitors doing? And then gives us, us and me an opportunity to assess if can you react something, react to someone in a timely fashion or something in a timely fashion? Also know that a typical day I spend a lot of time looking at data and signals as I think every marketer should do and look across different organizations.Right.

And what one of the things that I start to do is start to connect with function and business leaders right below their head of sales chief technology officers. You know, my peers across the globe. And so what that does is this sort of kicks off into a rhythm of, you know, just sort of things that are happening. And then based on the priority week, I think this is pretty common. You know, every head of marketing, every head of organizations will tell you we spend a lot of time at functional leaders. In my case is marketing. Functional leaders want to get an update on the lay of the land. A lot of brainstorming, a lot of creative ideas.

We especially being a startup here in the Bay Area these days, we spend a lot of time with creative ideas, you know, new media initiatives. You know, go out there and see what else we can do, how we can get our brand out there, how we can get people sort of, you know, talking about us strategizing and activating new marketing channels.

And obviously, you know, you're in the world of podcasts. Park has been one of them. You know, we do a lot of webinars. You know, we discuss events and a lot of these tactical things that happen. But all in all, you know, it's about reading signals, understanding what the market is doing, understanding what the customers are doing, understanding our competitors and partners, and basically sort of putting a, you know, a view of what should happen and, you know, how do we sort of, you know, you don't basically spend the rest of our day or week and then strategizing and activating the things that are priorities for us.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, that's I mean, you, I think pretty much summed up what it means to be a marketer today, right? Figure out those data in sales, figure out our customer, and come up with some creative ideas for your company to speak to them. So let's talk about what's kind of unpack your career, see we can learn and see how you got to where you are today to be able to do that.

So the first lesson you mentioned is stay true to yourself in your career. So obvi, how did you learn that lesson? How have you been able to stay true to yourself?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah, look, I see like I said, Right. So it gets very interesting, right? I mean, gone are the days where, you know, where folks are. If you take examples of, you know, people in my life, if you know, if you take my dad, for example, he spent his, you know, career, you know, for 35 years in the same company.

And India, you know, he stated and discipline grew in the company and sort of became, you know, you know what what he did Right. The world is very different right now. Right. You know, you know, there are many choices, many opportunities out there. And a lot of the time what happens is that because of that, from a career point of view, people change what they do multiple times.

And, you know, sometimes they may end up doing what they like, sometimes they don't. Right. And what's helped me along the way and the reason I do this is because I also sit on the advisory board of lot of companies and and, you know, you have to be true to what you feel is the right thing for you to do.

Right. In my case, I have been an innovator. I've been with disruptive technologies and more importantly, I've been a storyteller. Right? So even when I advise companies and input, especially when you start, let's say when they write their own mission statement, try to write who you are and try to be core to what you kind of go out there and do it.

Like if disruption and innovation is true to what you want to do, then that's important. For instance, my previous company that I worked for, we truly believed in the way automation was going to change the world, not because automation was going to change how we do things, but actually going to disrupt and change. You know, the way the world the way the world approaches work right today, a digital age, when we look at it, we are actually truly changing the way people in IT and business do work with the use of proper technology such as AI and automation.

Right? So I think it's important for me, I always believe that you have to have a mission that is important for you to go out there and execute. And if you stay true to it, you can basically go out there and really have a stellar career, right? And that's why I think this is one of the things I wanted to talk to you when we started this conversation about being true to yourself.

Daniel Burstein: Well, so we're about to publish some data soon to actually probably be out already when this podcast comes out about artificial intelligence and marketers, younger and older marketers about how they look at AI and how they're or how they're excited about it. And so I wonder if you had any advice you talk about stay true to yourself in your career now.

Can you stay true to yourself when something so disruptive happens in your industry? Right? Because you were a software engineer, you had that background, you've been around these disruptive technologies. It's happened before. AI is the next thing. So. So what kind of advice do you give to your peers? Younger and older workers.

Avi Bhagtani: See it in the most important, and that's why I think you started with this, right, with this conversation about staying true to yourself. You know, you don't be afraid of innovation. Right? And I think that's one thing. If you see my own career path, right, you know, from you know, going from software are going into companies that are, you know, tens and billions of dollars in market cap to startup companies that are basically just starting to see their first product.

Right. Disruption is going to happen in the world of marketing. Does disruption has already started. Right. You know you know, the question is if you're going to be afraid of it, then basically you're going to be an objection is in, you know, in trying to make things better. And I think that's what a lot of us struggle sometimes are.

We feel that technology is here to either, you know, replace how we do things. I don't think that's the perspective we should have and especially in the world of AI, that is really not the perspective we are. I think if you look at it more as something that can augment and make either your life better or your job better, If you had that perspective, I think things become a little more better.

See, ultimately at the end of it, you have to enjoy it. These are these are fun things. These are fun tools. If you look at it, they're not you know, they're out here to, you know, to ruin your life. Right. And I think if you if you if you think it from that vantage point, that perspective, things become a little more easier.

I feel.

Daniel Burstein: Okay, I love this. I got to dive into that. I'm a creative. I started I started writing printers right now, but I absolutely have to adopt. You said enjoy it. So I. Question So what do you enjoy about technology? What do you enjoy about it? I mean, the thing that I've enjoyed from technology and I've seen like the and the change for me from moving to print to digital, I know this is kind of getting old, but it's like you had so much more insight into your customer than you did with the print that there's not.

That is one thing I guess I could say enjoy, but I mean, what do you enjoy about AI? What do you enjoy about technology? What's fun about it?

Avi Bhagtani: See those who Look, I've been in the field of AI for about, what, seven plus years now, right? In some way, shape or form that either have been on the technology side, on the marketing side and the product side or what have you. Right. If you even put aside for a second right. The best thing that you realize is that any tool that augments you like, for example, I'm a storyteller, right?

Is like you mentioned, creative. If I find something, you know, and use it as an example that helps me tell the story of my brand better so my customers can relate to me better, they can find better tools that they can, you know, that, that they feel that that that, you know, there is a sense of, you know, attachment to our brand.

If I can do that with the help of technology, then why not? Why not use it as a, you know, you know, as something that can help you, you know, rather than something that can become more of a hindrance. And and I think that's why I was saying that it's important to have that perspective is not a thread.

You know, I you know, when I say fun, it's it's you know, it's it's something that you can go out there that can if you're an end work product is better because of that, then what's the harm? I don't see it right. I mean, you know, so like that's why I'm said, you know, from the core of it, I'm always a technologist.

As many opportunities as we get now, you do have to balance adult right in the world of tragedy, you know, And we can always have these conversations where, you know, generative. I can do a lot of good and a lot of good. But, you know, leaders like us, it's our responsibility to make sure that that good it balances balance with what makes sense.

Right. And, you know, you cannot compromise the quality of the creativity. You cannot compromise the quality of the brand just because of pure velocity of using tools like that. I think if you could strike the right balance, I mean, that's good. And, you know, that's what I think a lot of these things can help me.

Daniel Burstein: I like that I buy into, too. I think what you're mentioning, too, is something that's sometimes called shiny object syndrome. Like sometimes we can do things with new technology, but should we? But so this ties in to your next lesson. And I think this is kind of what we all have to do as marketers all the time. You said make yourself uncomfortable.

Our position is how in your career, how have you made yourself uncomfortable?

Avi Bhagtani: See? Oh, I think you mentioned this, right? I started my career as a as a software engineer, you know, in a, you know, built in from there, we went on the journey of sort of, you know, managing a degree. We always I always been fortunate to work in some really, really innovative products and solutions out there. Some small startups, some big companies.

My story is that interesting that you know, he used to I you know, this lived in North Carolina. You know had a family there, a very nice home, very comfortable. But you could always tell that there was you know, there was something missing. Right. You know, in and again, it's it's it you know, at that point of time, you know, you're not you know, you're young, you're not sure what it was in in in sometimes that you know, that that search continues.

Right. And and so the opportunity came you know, I you know, I finished my MBA at at the University of North Carolina. But the opportunity came to move to, you know, California and take a you know, a you know, a product and a market facing role. And it was a tough choice, right? I mean, you know, to the young kids, disrupting the whole family, moving here.

But, you know, like but I always felt and maybe that was my first lesson in this, but being uncomfortable is probably the best thing that you can do to yourself. Right. And see, you know, that's when we talk about the world of I also, you know, this is this is a continuing conversation for us because you have to make you have to make yourself uncomfortable to the point that you feel like there is more to learn.

There are things you can do differently and, you know, and it creates an opportunity for you to innovate even yourself. Right. And I think that's that's what happened with my career. You know, that's as you mentioned, you know, to got to go in many different roles, changed many different industries, by the way. Right. And you know, and I'm not saying this because you know as that it it should not be perceived as saying that the you know, only way to success is just you know you know, you know, you know, changing things just for the heck of changing things.

Right. That's why I think that this first part about staying true to yourself is important. And that pulls that one single thread, right, for me was innovation. It was disruption. As I get comfortable in the status quo. And I feel that, you know, we're you know, we're in a place where, you know, things are just happening and they will just happen.

You know, if I was there or not, you know, I get to the you know, I start having the discussions with myself and saying that, you know, what's the next thing that I think what is the what is the next mission and vision? I can attach myself to? Right. And, you know, and, you know, that's how you know, that's why I feel that there's this making use of uncomfortable, whether it's technology, innovation, a place, a, you know, an industry, a market, a geography.

There's so much out there to learn, right? If you if you don't disrupt yourself, how are you going to how can you claim to disrupt the world? Right. So that some that's been my philosophy. It seems like it's worked so far. I would say it's me.

Daniel Burstein: Well, I like that. How can you just disrupt the world records, disrupt yourself? But I also like what you said, you know, Would it have made a difference? Evolve was here. Like what would things have turned out differently? And I never really thought about it before, but got me thinking. In baseball, there's a statistic called wins above replacement, and they're trying to say like, okay, if there's any second baseman, they're like, How much more do we really get from the second baseman?

So I like that that I hadn't really thought about before. Like, okay, what difference did I make in this world anyone was in this role? Would just be a rising tide and it still would have worked as well as what you're talking about. I think more on a personal level. Your next lesson is move fast and take risk.

I think this is probably more on the enterprise level now. I mean, this okay, this sounds like the Santa Clara, California startup guy. Move fast and take risk. Right? But so how do you do that? How are you done that in your career?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah, I see the you know, this is always a little bit because we knew it was a little caveat to that. And I think it's I said, you know, move fast, take this, but enjoy the journey. Right. And I think that's you know, that's that's been a lesson that's come much later in life, you know, because when your head's down trying to do a bunch of things, you're probably more focused on outcomes and results rather than, you know, rather than enjoying the ride, you know, for a little bit.

Right. But I think the see the move for us to take risks, you know, come from this whole idea that like, you know, we started with this whole conversation that we are in this era of this hyper innovation. Right. And when you look at you know, when you look at happen in innovation and some of the best organizations, we feel, you know, in this world of patriots and disruptive innovations.

Right. And then the problem is when we fail, what is our response to this failure? As many of you know, more often the responses abandon the idea, move on to the next best thing. But for me, I always believe that failure doesn't mean that the original path was incorrect. It would just mean that there's a pivot needed. We need a small tweak here or there.

And if you believe in the vision of what you set out to achieve, then success or failure is not the goal, right? It's part of the journey. And that's why I said, Let's go embark on this journey. And not only will you enjoy the ride, but this sort of give you momentum to go out there and sort of do more.

If you're not always worried about risks. Right. And like I said, this is a lesson that comes at least came for me much later in my life. The take a risk as calculated as they may be, because as long as you stay true and core to why you're doing it and what is the impact of not taking the risk right in our world, sometimes we call it an opportunity cost, right?

Opportunity cost is okay. You know, if I had, you know, X resources, you know, what would I do with them? Right. And and so it's it's important to sort of balance that out. But I feel that, you know, risk and failure is a part of what we do, right? You need to be hyper innovative to live in the world of disruption.

But more importantly, if you do it in a way that that, you know, that risk means something, you know, whether it's, you know, you know, building the next electric vehicle or it's, you know, you know, doing the next thing for energy transformation or in our case, building the next autonomous enterprise. It comes at a risk right here. You know, it's a bold vision that we put out there.

And, you know, we go out there, you know, and basically embarking on this bold vision and we're taking a lot of folks with us. Right. So it's a it's it's a balance. But it's a risk that, you know, how do you you know, how do you manage risk and failures and, you know, and grow with it? I think that's that's critically important.

It's critically important for an individual. It's critically important for, you know, an organization as well.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. Let me let me ask about that. I wonder if you can give us an example of how you manage risk taking so, for example, I interviewed Julian Rio. He's the assistant vice president of international marketing at RingCentral. I interviewed him on how I made it marketing. One of his lessons was Take risks, fail early and learn fast, and he told me he is what he did.

He followed the Perito principle, right? Yeah. So he took 80% of his budget and he kept that on his bread and butter, but he took 20%. And that's where he can go crazy and take risks. So you mentioned the word calculated, right? It was a chance to be like, okay, we can take risk, but it's calculated. We're not hurting our bread and butter here, so to speak.

So can you give me an example as a leader? Like how do you manage risk taking? How do you decide what is worth to take that risk? What is worth not going into now?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah, no, that's a that's a very good question. And I think that's a that's a struggle that a lot of the leaders have. Right. Because like I said, when you go back to the status quo, right. I mean, you know, many of the times, if you if you if you stick with the status quo, the status quo, more or less, you should be okay.

Right. You know, I mean, that's a that's a perspective that, you know, many people follow in our world. You know, you know, in the world of innovation, that's not an option for us. See, risk is I don't know if I have a percentage, you know, whether it's an 80, 20 need for any signs of, you know, a good rule or good principle, Bertelsmann that you mentioned.

But for us, it is more important of the risk of not taking the risk. Right? It's it's it's how we measure whether you call it out from a budget point of view or you. CLOUDERA from a new market point of view or even something as simple as a new message, right. What is so important that can be disruptive out there?

How do you how do you carve out, you know, not just info on percentage point of view, but from the initiatives that you put out there? Right. Let me give an example. Right. You mentioned the word creative, right? So many creative ideas are based out there on appeal risk. They could be completely orthogonal to what an organization is trying to say, but there's probably a better way to say, and that's where, you know, I personally love creative people because I think they're the biggest risk takers, right?

When you look at the world of marketing because they're putting out there things that have to resonate with our brand, but do it with the flair, you know, that gives them the opportunity to express themselves, right? So I think that's, you know, that's an ideal where we can sort of say, you know what, you know, a little more risk and be a little more bold and, you know, and, you know, and be creative in the ways how we think about it and going out there.

And, you know, in the taking the opportunity to put our message out that for me, something even like building out an entire, you know, a new market is a complete risk. Right. And we have to go out there and explore those risks. And those are the those are the areas where we start carving out every deal, like, you know, myself has to go out there and go out there and put this and create an opportunity that says, what can what is the next risk initiative I take?

Right. And what is important that if I don't take that risk, what is my last possible opportunity or the opportunity cost of not taking that risk? And that's how I measure, you know, the next few things we go out there and do there.

Daniel Burstein: How do you so, like systematize this with the organization? Make sure you learn. So, for example, you talk about creative. You know, some companies would engage in AB testing, they engage in marketing experimentation, right? They would split tests and they would see, well, this versus that. And what did we learn? You also mentioned failure in the past. Failure is I mean, we should probably be failing some.

Right? Or not risky, Jared But what do you do? How do you set it up to ensure, okay, hey, from this kind of piece of my budget or from this piece of my activities, okay, I'm I'm learning something. I know what I'm learning is true and I know what kind of next step to take to get. I guess I've heard company is AB testing the experimentation.

I mean pilots, all sorts of different thing. Is there anything specific you do to make sure you're learning from it?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah. So if you if you get into the tactics, everything that you mentioned makes a lot of sense, right? I think the easy today, the the, the advantage that we have is a lot of data, right? We can get a lot of data from the tools that that marketeers have the luxury of having. You know, so that's one thing that you know I personally in you know my team knows this as well that, you know, we spend a lot of time analyzing data.

You asked me a day in the life of that. I told you data and signals are very important to us. Right? So the you know, AB testing obviously is a part of it sort of. But sort of what is more important is that, you know, can we create that experience? Right. You know, when we look at, you know, when you when we look at the video, look at a creative or whether you look at a you know, a board piece of message that we're putting out there, can we create the resonance?

Can we create the continuity? Can we create, you know, you know, of an ability for our our customers, our prospects, you know, our partners to resonate with us. Right. And so for me, it all comes down to data, right? And data gives a fantastic opportunity. And it's all ties back to the use of technology in marketing, right? Like you said, yeah, for example, is a fantastic tool, if you can use that to sort of analyze the right data, analyze the right signals at every opportunity that a, you know, an individual engages with our brand, I think it gives you the chance to pivot.

It gives you also the chance to test out, you know, if something is working or not. But it also gives you a chance to even can become even more bolder. Right. And there's nothing wrong with that. Right. You know, because we have to we have to look at it from that vantage point that in the world of disruptive technologies, it's very hard sometimes for people to directly resonate with what they want to.

But there is always, you know, fear on their side as well to make them comfortable. That's why this use of as many marketing tools as you can is is you can use and analyze the data and use that to make decisions. I think that can be a helpful, helpful way to sort of, you know, to to to help you make those decisions.

Daniel Burstein: Right. We're talking about tools. Tools are obviously essential in marketing. But next, we're going to talk about people the next section of how I mean, marketing. We talk about the people we did things with, the people we learn from, and we're going to talk about that in your career, Abby But first, I should mention that the how I made It in Marketing podcast is underwritten by MC Labs Institute, the parent organization Market Sherpa, and you can join us for an Air Girls session Wednesdays at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

You can learn more or sign up at Bell Labs dot com slash a I hyphen briefing. That's MSE Lab slash A.I. hyphen briefing. Okay, now let me talk about the Mac Labs. I go, let's look at some of the people you learned the lessons from in your career. This lesson you mentioned. You said best, your best and own the role you were in.

You learned this from Michael Hurlston, who was a CEO of Synaptic. So how did you learn this from Michael?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah, Michael's been a great mentor for you know, for me, you know, I was a very seasoned executive and I came to the Bay Area and, you know, is you know, he had he always had a fantastic way of putting his perspective out there. Right. Without being pushy, It was always like looking to do more. You got to figure out what your niche was.

You came here for a reason. You know, you've disrupted your life for a reason. You got to go out there and figure out what the next challenge for, you know, for you is. And he was one of those individuals, was very influential in not, you know, reminding me that the status quo probably is not always the best thing.

You know, go, go owner territory, go own something. And I think that, you know, that was extremely helpful in you know, even in as my role progressing and becoming, you know, marketing in North America and then eventually to my you know, in my more experienced world as well.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, it's kind of great to have that cheerleader in our corner, but it kind of ties into the next lesson. You said, as the environment changes so muster strategies. I think that's true probably for your personal career, but also for as you lead a company. You said you learned this from Peter Brews Dean of the Darla Moore School of Business, where you got your MBA. So how did you learn that from Peter?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah, no, Peter was at the University of North Carolina before he went on to become the dean of, uh, you know, of a dollar. But it was always interesting. We all just started are our lessons or a class with. He used to teach marketing strategy, right? And, you know, really interesting individual and very animated. Right? And we used to always start every day with this mantra.

He used to actually stand up and make us see it. Right. You know, as a as your environment changes almost, your strategy is extremely important for us. Right. I mean, you mentioned the I you mentioned disruption. You know, you've talked about all of these things that have been, you know, you know, that have been the challenge, your day to day environment on a daily basis.

And that's why these these sort of this whole can culmination, this, you know, this coming full circle in saying that if we don't change our strategy as the environment changes, it is problematic. Right? You know, so so it was it was a very good lesson. And it's something that that of course, I haven't forgotten it in so many years.

I won't tell you how many years. I probably tell you how old I am in telecom news. But it's something you know, it's something that's been very core to, you know, what I truly believe in, You know, even in my advisory role, you know, I you know, I try to, you know, remind folks that it's it's is believe in your technology, believe me.

And so but if the environment changes, sometimes it's extremely important to relook at your strategy.

Daniel Burstein: You know, I love that he had everyone stand up in the beginning of class and say it out loud. It sounds cheesy, but you're talking about we went to how many years later, many years later, you still remember this.

Avi Bhagtani: Like that is the persona. And we know that every time this was a you know, we had some very, very seasoned people in that class. It was not like we haven't you know, we're this is our first rodeo. That is it's so it was an important it was an important it continues to be. And it will continue to be, as you know, as long as you know that we are all marketeers and and, you know, innovators and disruptors and what have you.

Daniel Burstein: Well, let me ask you, so can you think of a time when you had to manage that change and what you learned, you know, as a manager. So, for example, I interviewed on Asa Landis, the vice president of marketing for Octane, on how I made it marketing. And one of her lessons was change. Even good Change is hard and everyone wants to be able to control or at least influence the change in their lives.

So we're talking about change from disruptive technology. Another change happens. And in her example, when you come in as a leader or when you have to make a change in your organization. And so in her example, you know, she was moving into a new role and growing her team and setting a strategic vision. And she learned that she was all excited because she was setting this new strategic vision.

But they felt the change was happening to them. Right. And so she had to kind of change it and get her team on board a little more. So the change was happening with them instead. Right. So you talk about as the environment changes so much, your strategy change management. It's important for us as managers. So can you think of an example how you had to manage change, what it was as as technology change, whether it was a team change, a person change, a strategy change, and what you learned, how you did that, how you actually manage that change.

Avi Bhagtani: You'll see. I think you mentioned a very interesting point. And I think see though, when I started with digital, it just just, you know, two years ago, I mean, change was the you know, was the need of the hour, right? I mean, everything was changing for us. Right. And I think we I was, you know, building a team out.

You know, we were you know, we were just starting to Bartles into, you know, in getting our brand message out there, you know, So, I mean, either we have an old, old claim to say that, you know, or you know, our change hasn't stopped yet, right? I mean we have been, we've been disrupting ourselves. You know, our environment changes at a very, very fast pace.

Right. And you know, both from the team that we build on board, the, you know, the kind of, you know, markets that we have entered, we've been in the you know, in this constant change. Rachel. So when we when we when we put that into, you know, sort of like you said, her day in the life or what does that mean?

Right? What it means is that maybe from a marketeers point of view, we mentioned this word persona, right in, you know, sometimes it's the people you talk to, right. That changes. Right. That could be a big part of your strategy. You might think you're talking to a set of people, but you know, maybe, you know your products and your services and, you know, your next, you know, disruption is probably meant for a different set of people.

And that's that's that's that's kind of stretch is strategic change that sometimes you know we fail to see right and you know when you're a new day to day and I think that's what it's important that you step back you know you know I mean, we mentioned I mentioned as early as a data and signals, as much as you can absorb the data, as much as you can read the signals, you know, you can manage their change and you can you can adapt to environments, you know, as they become, you know, different or even disruptive to sort of what you are today.

Right. And and that's completely fine. Right. And it's it's completely okay.

Daniel Burstein: So this next lesson, essentially it's just one word. Patience. That's it. Patience. You learn this from Akhilesh Tripathy, the CEO at Digitate, how you learn this fromAkhilesh because you know a lot of what we talked about someone will almost think that you practice the opposite, right? Because disruptive technology AI all these things mean very quickly. Change was very, very, very quickly.So how did you learn from Akhilesh, patience?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah, I know that. So you can obviously he is an extremely seasoned individual, professional and has been doing this for many, many years. Right. And you mentioned a very interesting point that I think people misconstrue disruption pace with the lack of patients. Right. I mean, if you want wanting and pushing a need for change does not mean it's going to happen immediately.

Right. And I think that's where many people and I think especially if you look at, you know, Silicon Valley, we often, you know, guilty of it and we feel that, you know, disruption and change means it has to happen immediately. Right. And but I think both from a personal point of view, a career point of view, and, you know, managing my own team, there are many lessons, you know, that I learned.

But I would say if, you know, you know, being patient and giving an opportunity to see things that you put into motion. FOSTER is extremely important, right? Look, I mean, if I if you tell me if you asked me this question two years ago and where we would end up, what mode my team be and you know who the people I would work with, I would not you my answer would have been very different. Right. But, you know, we've in the last in the last couple of years, we built out a great team. I'm extremely, extremely proud of it. But, you know, and we've put in, you know, a lot of wheels in motion, right. You know, from our, you know, creating our own brand, creating our own digital marketing initiatives, you know, making sure our, you know, our product market fit strategies resonate.

You know, we can stay true to our customers and become their voice. These things stick time. They don't happen overnight. And this does not mean that you don't get associated with the next disruptive technology or you don't do or don't do other things. But it's important that you give yourself the runway to, you know, to let those things foster in, give it an opportunity to become successful and I think that was that is one thing that, you know, of of you know, I'm you know, I've learned tremendously from him.

And I think I would be if and I'm sure there's been enough leaders here, we're probably have advice. But one at rest I would give you know people mentoring other leaders is that give them the space an opportunity to grow and foster and let them you know, you know, let them use that, you know, that runway to show you the ability to, you know, to convert that into success.

And a lot of times instant gratification is, you know, it's in it's probably more unwanted than it should be, but it's actually less required. I think, you know, it's a you know, it's if you if you give things to foster, you know, I think it will you know, and you have the right leaders and team to support you. I think you will see results and that's why I think patience comes in.

Daniel Burstein: I like the instant gratification is was it more desired but less required than necessary. So let me let's talk about you as a leader. Can you think of an example of how you've had to implement patients into your management practice? So, for example, I interviewed Ariel Glassman, the Director of Marketing at Sage Communications, on Jow I Made It In Marketing.

And one of her lessons was trust your gut and have patience. And she talked about she was leading a strategic partnership with her organization and another organization. They were going to engage in a strategic partnership. There were a lot of players involved, a lot of things involved, a very long process. And so one simple tactic she would do just to stay patient and she would put a Post-it note on her computer.

And so every day she can just look and say, Hey, you're just the next step I have to take. I won't get this done. Tomorrow is going to take a long time. And here is a next step I have to take. So for you out there, you talked about the importance of patience. How have you in your career, you know, instituted patients into how you lead into your management practice?

Avi Bhagtani: Yeah. No, I mean, I'll be the first to admit that, you know that you know it. You know, it took a while for me to even, you know, to understand what that even meant. I, like I said, you know, it was, you know, early on in your career, you want you want to do something. You want to see results really quickly and you know, and see for me, I think the state has been, you know, a perfect example of that, Right?

I think we have like I said, you know, we started in the marketing world. We started to with a lot of ambitions, you know, but not a lot not a lot of things in motion, you know, to accomplish those ambitions. Right And I think, you know, from the day one, you know, if hiring through a very, you know, complex process and, you know, even going out there and creating the, you know, you know, our right brand message, you know, basically going out the room and getting into new markets, I think there have been a lot of in the last couple of years have been have been, you know, you know, I'm nothing, but it's like I said, you know, putting things in motion and letting them foster. I don't know if I had one. I wish I you know, I had a poster for myself that could you know, that could, you know, tell me to be even more patient than I can be. But I think one thing I have learned is that it is extremely important.

And as a as a marketer, it's extremely important to keep everyone in the know how or what is happening. I think people, you know, you yourself get more passion because people sometimes don't understand the world of marketing. It's very instant, right? It's like, well, Wade, you know, you have all this budget or can you just go and materialize and make magic happen, Right?

And I think if you if you build trust in an organization, your earn trust. Right. And if you build a very clear communication channels. Right. You know, both internally and you know, sort of across your, you know, you know, your ecosystem of you know, your you know that it's your it's your partners, whether it's your vendors or what have you.

I think that's the truly come through. And you realize that that you have more of a support, you know, in you know and gives you an opportunity to go out there and even execute with a little more runway than you initially thought you had. Right. And that's what my middle you know, my sort of modus operandi has been is like put out the goals and the objectives that we want to go out there and cheer, create a blueprint of how we go out and, you know, and do it and communicate sometimes overcommunicate, sometimes keep reminding yourself also that this is not going to happen.

You know, tomorrow. It needs a little more, you know, maybe it needs some fine tuning. Maybe the environment will change. Maybe the strategy has to change. All of the things will happen, you know? But if you truly believe that, you know, you're on the right path and you know, you know you're doing the right things. And then I think eventually it's sort of those results are sure, you just have to give it some time sometimes.

Daniel Burstein: Ah, we talk about a lot of different things about what it means to be a marketer today. So if you had to break it down for your own career, when you're hiring, when you're building your team, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?

Avi Bhagtani: You'll see them. I'll give you a few and I'll keep it brief. Let's see. I think having those deep knowledge of your market, your customers, your competitors and try to get as many details as possible right, I think is very, very important. We keep seeing this. Right. But I don't think, you know, many of us spend that much time understanding this. Right. You know, our buyers are different. What makes us differentiated all of this stuff, you say. But I think it's important to get as much deep knowledge about these things. That's important as being a storyteller. See, I am a firm believer of this, right? I think right from the companies associate myself with to the people we hired is extremely important, you know, to articulate what your vision is and your core purposes. Right?

Most importantly, you need to do it in the most simplest of manners, right? Sometimes the you know, our stories are more complex and, you know, like, you know, the example we use in even an eight year old should be able to understand it. Nothing against eight year old, eight year olds. But that's how I think storytelling should be set true to your brand.

There will be many, many disruptions. People will yank in many different directions, always straight to your brand in order to who you are. Aligning marketing strategies to your core audience. There is no one size fits all, many people will tell you. But that really isn't right. And this is something I mentioned before and and use data as much as possible.

There are many, many opportunities, many tools out there. Don't try to do this in a vacuum. Right. And data is extremely important. And what you do with that data is extremely critical as well. And one last thing I would leave the audience with, and I think we started with this, is don't be afraid to innovate in order for tech, use the power of the AI.

Any other tools that you have, other technologies that you need to because disruption will happen and it's best sometimes to disrupt yourself. And it starts with not being afraid to innovate. So that's a few. Daniel, I think I'll leave your audience with, but hopefully that helps.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I think we all need to disrupt ourselves in our careers and our companies and to disrupt themselves too, and outsmart myself. Well, thank you so much. Obviously, a lot for you today.

Avi Bhagtani: Thank you. I appreciate again the time and the opportunity.

Daniel Burstein: And thank you to everyone for listening.

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