April 17, 2024

CMO-CPO Collaboration: Bridge Marketing and Product for collaborative growth (podcast episode #95)


During our interview, Tifenn Dano Kwan, CMO, Amplitude, discussed thriving in mid-size companies, scaling up processes, and customer centricity. Listen to episode #95 of How I Made It In Marketing now to get ideas for empathy in management, personal and corporate branding, and cross-functional collaboration.

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

CMO-CPO Collaboration: Bridge Marketing and Product for collaborative growth (podcast episode #95)

Get even more ideas from this episode by using the Analysts – Video Transcript expert assistant in MeclabsAI. It’s totally FREE to use (for now). (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

One of my favorite career analogies is the music video for No Rain, by Blind Melon.

There’s a girl in a honeybee costume, dancing around, and she’s so sad because no one seems to care or understand.

And then one day, she comes across this field filled with people in honeybee costumes hopping and leaping around. A look of elation crosses her face, and she joins them to dance her best dance.

Are marketing careers really that different? As my next guest puts it – ‘find the place where you thrive.’

To hear the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson-filled stories, I talked to Tifenn Dano Kwan, CMO, Amplitude.

Amplitude is a public company traded on Nasdaq. Its annual recurring revenue in 2023 was $281 million, up 10% year-over-year. Dano Kwan manages a team of 60 and a budget of $30 million.

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

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on Amazon Music

Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Here are some lessons from Dano Kwan that emerged in our discussion.

Lead with empathy

One crucial thing Dano Kwan has learned is never to view her career as a solo venture. As she began to move into more managerial and senior roles, she increasingly recognized that she was not the only person impacted by the decisions she made, or how she acted, in her working life. There are teams to lead, peers to collaborate with, customers to inspire. Every decision she makes has a ripple effect. It is so important to be a compassionate, empathetic, and human leader.

Many of us are very careful with our personal relationships whilst sometimes overlooking our professional ones — and she thinks this is a mistake. Both should be handled with equal care.

Of course, leading with empathy is not only important with your team, but also critically important with your customers. As marketers, we always need to be empathetic to our customers’ pain, and work to resolve it. Today’s customers need to understand the value your business provides to them at every turn. They want to interact with a human, not a corporation. Leading with empathy both within your own organization and with customers is key to rise in the marketing ranks.

As an example, she talked about Lloyd Adams, and how he positioned her for a channel marketing role before she even asked for it, an act she describes as true empathy.

Find the place where you thrive

It’s incredibly important to find the type of organization (and the place within that organization) in which you are happiest. For Dano Kwan, that’s in mid-sized companies in the hyper-growth stage. Throughout her career, she found her sweet spot in organizing teams, processes, and programs, all around the goal of scaling up. She loves to be the person to thread the needle and bring it all together.

She has entered companies to help instrument and coordinate this shift many times. In her last role as CMO at Collibra, she facilitated a data-driven transformation of the company’s marketing functions, helping to build a category-leading brand. Prior to this, as CMO at Dropbox, she centralized the marketing programming to drive revenue growth through customer centricity.

Her role as CMO at Amplitude has been one of her most exciting ventures yet. Many leaders within their go-to-market organization have joined in the past year, so her passion for organization and process has proved incredibly useful. Today, their marketing, sales, customer success, and strategy and operations teams are more aligned than ever.

Become a natural collaborator

Marketers must embrace the role of collaborator. This will look different for every role and in every industry. For Dano Kwan, this has looked like being the person at the helm of the convergence of product and marketing teams.

Product and marketing teams have typically worked in silos. However, the relationship between product and marketing teams has shifted with the rise of digital products. Now more than ever, these teams need to work together. For example, when she started at SAP Ariba, the product and marketing teams were fairly disconnected.

But when the organization planned to announce and launch 12 product innovations in two months' time, she knew the only way to pull this off was to collaborate and align their objectives and outcomes. To make this happen, she actually moved into the product team’s office and encouraged their different departments to speak the same language and problem-solve together. Establishing a shared foundation for success requires positive intent and effort.

One person she learned how to collaborate from as she grew in leadership was President Barack Obama, by reading his biography. She was inspired by how he was able to grow from having just two years of experience in the Senate to being the Commander-in-Chief by hiring and seeking advice from people more experienced than he was.

Lessons (with stories) from people she collaborated with

Dano Kwan also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with.

Branding shapes success for companies and leaders

via Alicia Tillman (CMO, Delta Airlines)

Tillman was Dano-Kawn’s boss during some of her time at SAP Ariba, and she was the first person to really show Dano Kwan the importance of branding, both for the company and also for herself. Tillman showed Dano Kwan that being able to guide an organization’s brand and messaging is just as important as honing her own brand as an executive and a leader. It’s enabled her to drive success at her companies but also in her own career.

Empowerment and accountability cultivate leadership at every level

via Barry Padgett (CEO, Amperity)

Padgett was another mentor during her time at SAP, and he taught Dano Kwan how to truly empower a team by creating a culture of accountability. She learned how to push accountability down each rung of the ladder, so each person on a team would feel empowered to take ownership of their work. This helped her to lead a team of leaders. Having leaders across job levels and titles helps drive further success, which is a team structure she still works to cultivate today.

She is also proud to say that this approach to empowerment has led to four of her direct reports going on to become CMOs at other companies.

Bridge Marketing and Product for collaborative growth

via Sudhir Bhojwani (Cofounder & CEO, Oro Labs)

Bhojwani was Dano Kwan’s counterpart in the Product org at SAP Ariba. With his help, she learned how product teams think and how marketing teams can best collaborate with them. This knowledge has been invaluable as marketing and product have continued to converge, and building a bridge between CMOs + CPOs is crucial to driving growth in today’s digital landscape.

Cross-functional collaboration and an understanding of what other business functions need to be successful are necessary when you’re working toward shared metrics. Bhojwani was an early adopter of this mindset, and he passed it along to Dano Kwan.

Discussed in this episode

Empathy Marketing: 3 examples of empathetic marketing in action (with results)

How the Pandemic Inspired Brands to Rethink their Marketing Strategy: 3 quick case studies

Spontaneous Combustible Collaboration: Most important things in any company are people, people, people, market, and product (Podcast Episode #9)

Personal Development in Career: Step out of your comfort zone (podcast episode #73)

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

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Tiffen Dano Kwan: And you'd be surprised how effective this can be when you take action immediately and solve the problem with the customer and become a trooper. So I love to do that. I love to go and see customers on a regular basis, to seek their input and and do everything I can to continue to deliver value.

Intro: Welcome to how I made it in marketing from Marketing Sherpa, we scour pitches from hundreds of creative leaders and uncover specific examples, not just trending ideas or buzzword laden schmaltz real world examples to help you transform yourself as a marketer. Now here's your host, the senior Director of Content and Marketing at Marketing Sherpa, Daniel Burstein, to tell you about today's guest.

Daniel Burstein: One of my favorite career analogies is the music video for No Rain by Blind Melon. There's this girl in a honeybee costume. She's dancing around and she's so sad because no one seems to care or understand about her little dance. And then one day, one day, one bright day, she comes across this field. And it just filled with people and honeybee costumes hopping, leaping around, a look of elation crosses her face, and she joins them to dance.

Her best dance or marketing careers. Really that different? I thought of that analogy because, as my next guest puts it, fine. The place where you thrive, that's what we all want to do. So here to share the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories, is Tiffany Daniel Kwan, CMO of amplitude. Thanks for joining us, Tiffany.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: Thanks for having me, Danielle.

Daniel Burstein: I feel bad I said I wanted to make my French teacher proud in pronouncing your name. I think that's probably the worst I possibly could have done. So I apologize to Mrs. Dawson right now. let's take a quick look at Tiffany's background, though. she, part of many roles you had that she was a marketing programs manager at Cognos, Australian and New Zealand.

She's the CMO of SAP ribbon, SAP, Phil Glass at SAP, CMO of Dropbox, CMO of Collibra, and for the past two years, CMO of amplitude. Amplitude is a public company traded on Nasdaq. Its annual recurring revenue in 2023 was $281 million, up 10% year over year, and Tiffany manages a team of 60 and a budget of $30 million.

So, Tiffany, give us a sense. What is your day like as CMO?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: So first of all, Daniel, thank you very much for for spending your time together. I really look forward to to our conversation. And, you know, this morning, like almost every morning, I usually wake up, probably around six, 6 a.m. this is here in the, West Coast, in the Bay area. So I usually, start very early and, always have my morning ritual, which is my coffee with my spouse and our dogs.

And that's really important for me. This is what gets me really in the zone. And, you know, you you start really with family. That's, that's an important part for me. And usually the first thing I check is my slack, because my assistant gives me a full summary of my my agenda for the day, which is a very quick snapshot that I always enjoy looking.

So I'm a very routine oriented person, and I like to have those, those things. When I start my day, it really occurs me, gives me, I would say, the checkpoints that I need in order to get myself organized. And then from that point on, everything changes. What I mean by that is like I have my official agenda, which of course, I'm receiving every day, but then you have the unofficial agenda that starts and it always is like that.

And that's part of the job. When when you wake up and you lead a team and you're part of an executive team, you have to be ready every day to wake up and something's going to happen, whether it's people oriented systems, comms oriented, or other likes, you're going to have to deal with something that you didn't plan.

So that to me is what describes usually, my days. But it always, always I always thrive in a way to to really have a routine and get organized when I like to, to do, every day is just making sure that I have a checklist next to me. I call it To-Do. And it starts with, you know, a blank page of, a paper I like to write.

And I'm a very visual person, so I like to tick the box of all the things that I need to do. And every day I start over and over. So I have lots of paper around me, but it keeps me really organized. It keeps me visually centered and focused on on the things that need to happen, especially when I receive calls and meetings.

So another plan, which is which is the daily, the situation I'm in. So I love to, to, to do this usually have back to back calls. I am very, people oriented, collaboration oriented. So I have many, many one on ones, whether it was my directs, my, stakeholders, my peers, and, and that usually really, covers, I would say a good 50% of my day.

It's all related to connect ING with people. Then I have also some allocated time to just do the work, whether it's creating executive presentations, reviewing presentations that are sent to me as a as a pre-read, I have to have the time to do it. I always have two of my favorite, tabs open. One is my Tableau Dashboard and one is my Salesforce dashboard.

And, you know, I click on these all the time to look at numbers. These are things that I do on a refresh probably five, ten times a day to really, really get into the numbers and get into the business. so these are typical of, of what happens throughout the day. And then sometimes I do podcasts like 1 to 1 with you today.

Sometimes I do, interviews of candidates. And most of the time, though, I, spend, the days just connecting with people.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I like that. It sounds like when you're saying that I picture in my mind a pie chart. Like you've done a good job saying that pie charts, like, okay, this is amount for people, amount for getting work done, the amount for like seeing the numbers. And then there's that amount. Because I love how you say that. It's always going to be something.

It doesn't matter what it is, right. So anyway, for me I know like here are my plan activities and I got to stay ahead of them. I got to stay ahead of those deadlines because I know something's coming up. So I love how you say that. Yeah, well, let's take a look at some of the lessons from some of the things you made from your career.

That's a great thing we get to do as marketers. I feel like I've never been anything else, like a podiatrist or an actuary. But, like, we get to make things. So let's take a look at some of these lessons. First you say lead with empathy. So how did you learn this lesson? How did you learn to lead with empathy?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: So that's, you know, it's a big statement. Everybody wants to to have some level of empathy on, on the way they relate to work, the way they relate to, to people. But the short answer is, I have learned that, I should no one should ever view their career as a solo venture. You get from one point to another, not just on your own merit.

There's a lot of people around you that makes it happen every day. I am so grateful for the many people who have taught me, pushed me, challenged me. And and the empathy comes from interacting was with people. Great people. Right. I'll give you an example. when I was in, when I was in Singapore, I met an incredible leader.

He was my boss there for a couple of shows. His name is Lloyd Adams. He is now the president of North America for a SAP. He's had, decades long career over there. And he was set in Singapore on, on, on on the role where he was, responsible for channel marketing and SMB marketing for the region.

He was on an assignment. It was a short term assignment that that's what, big companies do. They send their top talents, internationally. And I built an amazing rapport with him. He went back to the US, and he thought about me, and he talked to the team, the North American marketing team over there about me. And they were looking for a channel marketer at the time to build a program.

And he positioned me before I even asked for it. That's true empathy. It's somebody who cared about me, knew I wanted to make it to the U.S and position me. So he called me and said to Fender, there's a role for you have been talking about you and they're really interested in you coming in and building whatever you built for me in Asia.

Do it in the US. So I learned empathy from the best. I learned the from incredible people who showed me how to give back, who showed me how to care deeply for, for people. And and to this day, I'm grateful for him because he's been, first of all, an incredible leader, showed me the way and whenever I have a chance now, I pay it forward.

I try to help people. I had a chance to do the same thing for someone. When I was at SAP. We moved from Canada to New York. And empathy is about caring. It's about caring deeply for someone and and and doing, doing everything you tend for that relationship to be harmonious and and to give someone a chance to thrive.

Daniel Burstein: So I love that example, like that career example with a colleague, for lack of a better word. But I wonder, can you think of a specific example of using that empathy for customers, like better understanding those customers? I mean, that's where it's really hard to connect. for example, I wrote an article on empathic marketing in action, and one of the case studies was with Bank of America.

It was during Covid and their chief client care executives talking about how, you know, they're trying to be empathetic with their customers, what's going to go on during Covid. And so they redeployed 3000 employees from their brick and mortar banks to handle calls because people weren't going into banks anymore. So those became this giant work from home call center.

They repositioned everyone because they realize their customers. They aren't going to want in-person interactions as much, but they're going to have some pretty serious financial challenges. And by doing this, even during Covid, they were able to hit an all time high of 85.6% of customers being satisfied, even though obviously this was such a challenging time. so for you, Tiffany, can you think of a specific example from your career of how you've been empathetic with your customers, how you led with empathy, focusing on those customers?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: You know, it's it's a great point. once it happened early in my career, I was, I was deployed to actually, capture success stories from customers. So you you go and you go, I was in France at the time. You travel all over the country to go and meet customers. who were supposed to show credible stories with you.

And instead, to my surprise, I would be in front of customers who had complaints about about the company and it happens more and more often than you say you you son conversation. And then you start listening deeply to, you know what? What this show is you. And then you realize it's not as rosy as you thought. And perhaps because you so open in the conversation, they start sharing with you.

And for what it's worth, you're there in front of them so often times. And that that happened especially, over the last couple of years, you don't have as many resources in front of customers as before. So when they see you, they start telling you all the things that are not going well. So to my surprise, I was a marketer and I was in front of those customers, selling me all the things that didn't have.

They had issues with pricing, they had issues with customer service, sales support. So I acted almost as the liaison for for these customers to come back to headquarters and say, hey, listen, I was able to capture a story and instead I heard all those things that customers need. So I was able to go back and talk directly to the management to to ask for some direct support to, to those customers.

That to me was, a direct example of how I could help with my level, just surface some of the challenges that some customers can, can face on a daily basis. And I loved doing that. And one of the things that we we do, and I've done this in, in many of my roles, is customer advisory, boards and, and events and activities where you truly seek out inputs and feedback from customers.

And you have to be open minded because sometimes it just did come from a point of despair or frustration. And the absolute objective you need to have is to deliver value every single day for customers. So when you hear them complain or share some frustration about some some elements of your offering that they don't get, you better listen.

Because this is an indication that perhaps something has been mis calibrated, you know, on both sides in terms of expectation or in terms of quality of, delivery. And, and I love those moments. They're learning moments. They're learning that deep empathy. And you'd be surprised how effective this can be when you take action immediately and, and solve the problem with the customer and become a true partner.

So I love to do that. I love to go and see customers on a regular basis. Just seek their input and and do everything I can to continue to deliver value. So I encourage a lot of, the marketers, CMOs and likes to just deliver those, moments, those, those platforms of feedback, whether it's a user group, customer advisory board or even, I would say visits like you could create an executive business review format with them, but but seeking out feedback is really important.

And it's not just a job of a customer success team, by the way. It's a job of every person who interacts with customers.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I love that. I mean, as marketers, we're out there making this promise to customers, right. So it does make sense that we should on the back and make the see how well it's being fulfilled and help improve things when they're not. because we're trying to we're trying to set up, I think this communication to customers, to the ideal customer, this is a good fit for you and not communicating to other customers that it's a fit for them.

It's not gonna be a fit for everyone. And that that makes me think of your next lesson here, which I mentioned in the opening. Find the place where you thrive. Right? Because that's what it's all about. I think sometimes you see a job opening and it's just tick, tick, tick. Okay. You know, this platform, you know, that performing in that platform.

Great. That that's where I go. I, you know, I know all those platforms, but really, same thing with customers. It's there's, I don't think really any good or bad organizations or good or bad products. It's good or bad for the right person. So how did you find the place where you thrive? How did you learn this lesson?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: You know, I've I've found a sweet spot, which is where I am today in the the sort of, growing, scaling up size of a company. So you're not you're not a startup, but you're not yet an enterprise. Just sort of in the middle. And you your job is to actually just really organize, structure the teams the way I've found it, I'll tell you that story, is when I joined a SAP Ariba, I had been with SAP, the mothership, for for a couple of years, about seven years at the time, across Australia, Singapore, in the US.

And I was asked to join the September team as a go to market year on. What does that mean? My job specifically was to be a bridge between product teams and marketing teams, and I found myself in Chaos Island. Like I literally arrived, and on day two, I was told that the relationship between marketing and product was not good.

And to make matters worse, we had less than three months to organize. an event, very large event. The biggest conference of of SAP was called a City Ribbon Live. At the time. And we were not prepared. We were supposed to package a dozen innovations and do the work between marketing and product to get ready for the big show.

So obviously the pressure was on me to figure out why. Why is it that what was going on? Was it that that didn't work? And and realizing that the teams just didn't operate the same way, I didn't have the same language and was starting to just, you know, blame each other in some in some capacity. short answer is they were not getting along at all.

And the the work was, stalling and we were running out of time. So what I did actually is what was funny, I was in the Palo Alto office, the marketing team was one one building. The plot team was on the other building, and none of them were communicating, and they were using the kitchen area in the middle as a neutral place to meet.

That's just how comical it was. the first thing I did is I relocated myself into the products building. I was there every day with them, and I was seeking to understand how they worked. And within a month we started working really closely together. Getting along. I would I would understand how the teams would really worked. They deeply cared about the products, and I found myself being a valuable asset because I could structure their team.

I'll repeat that. I could structure their thinking I was listening, I was learning from them. I was not judgmental. I was just seeking out to understand. And they really embraced me because I was showing up every single day with respect, with empathy, with, a calming presence. And I would take all of the information. I would structure the information for them and with them.

And at the end, which was probably two months later, we call presented the way we would organize and present the innovations on stage, how we would organize and present the content. And within three months, not only were we prepared, we created 150 assets together. Core presented the whole plan. It was a massive success. What I found in there is that I had found an ability to structure teams who would otherwise just not have the time, nor maybe the, the skill set to, to get organized and structure the works the way I was able to.

And that was my moment, so to speak. That's when I realized I'll have something I can bring to the teams here, without making them feel, any other way than successful and prepared. And that became a secret and super, super power of my own secret weapon. I came, I realized I could come to any organization and start structuring teams, processes, presentations, projects, with a deep level of collaboration with team and, and just really become a force multiplier.

So I found that sweet spot and then I was able to replicate it in every company.

Daniel Burstein: So that's great. So one way I would talk about that is you like finding your personal value proposition, right. Like this is my value proposition, right? Yeah. So let me ask you then again the same like kind of facing externally about about a company's value proposition externally about you talk about the structuring structuring things externally. So one thing that's really struck me in looking through your LinkedIn in your career is you were the CMO of Dropbox during the start of the Covid pandemic, right?

Yeah. That's right. So yeah, let me ask about that, because that was a really a time where, I mean, Dropbox, it would seem to be poised to take advantage of all the things that were going on during the pandemic with the work from home thing. So I wonder at that time, was there anything you did to structure Dropbox differently internally or externally, or set up that value proposition differently, pivot that value proposition differently in that moment?

because, for example, I can't believe I'm talking about Covid twice already in in just in the beginning of the interview. But I did, I wrote an article about how the pandemic inspired brands to rethink their marketing strategy. I did a case study with WebEx, Cisco, and that was a time where they rebranded from a web conferencing company to a hybrid collaboration platform.

Right? One seamless app for everything calls, meetings, messaging, events, etc. because suddenly web conferencing became everything right? It wasn't just that one off thing you do externally. So I wonder for you too, when you did that, you gave that great example of how you you structure things internally, found that place where you thrive, found your personal value proposition.

What did you do with Dropbox when just everything was hitting like that during Covid? Like how did you structure that company?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: So I love my time at Dropbox because this was another moment of transformation, number one. And then second is I got a chance to work with incredible people. and what happened when I started is we already even just before Covid started and I started in January. So it was just at the very beginning of the year. What I had in mind was to completely digitize marketing.

So we were at this juncture where we're wondering, should we do a big conference in person or should we think about a different approach? And I recommendation right off the bat was to create an online digital experience that was very much a vision that I had based on the ability to just really engage with audiences and, and just capture inbound much more effectively.

And because Redbox had this dual business model where part of their business is recurring self-serve revenue, which is product led growth, and another part is sales led ad to find ways to just create efficiencies out of the budget. So I was like, yeah, we should we should create a digital experience and perhaps just really shift to an online model.

And then Covid hit. So to me it was the perfect this situation where I didn't have, like many other companies that didn't have to overnight cancel my big conference to turn into a virtual event. I was lucky because I had thought about that just before Covid hit. So in some ways I had a little bit of a headstart.

It doesn't mean that it wasn't complicated because overnight we had to turn off all of our physical events, not just big conferences, but regional events, industry events, obviously. So we had to do this pretty quickly, but I didn't have the burden of of just having to switch, I would say a real in-person conference to an online experience because I had already started the process.

So it took us about nine months to create an integrated digital experience, which we unveiled, online. And the goal was to to just really redirect most of our audience into that online experience and generate some inbound out of it. And it was a huge it was a huge feat for the team, because you have to do it at scale across many, many, many, many different stakeholders and work through a whole system strategy and platform strategy.

But it was something I really enjoyed doing and it was soon and impetus that it happened during Covid, because this became a forcing function to actually get into that, that online experience. So that that's a tangible example, that I like to use when, an otherwise difficult situation, Covid becomes an opportunity for you to actually completely transform the way you work.

Daniel Burstein: I like that, I mean, a difficult situation, and you use that to do something positive. So also, I'd mentioned you talked about it being lucky, and it may be in some ways, but it is visionary in a way to like, you could not know that Covid would hit, but it wasn't just that Covid hit. And then we work from home, Covid accelerated trends that were going on, right?

I mean, obviously, if Covid happened in 1900 or when the big flu happened, like people didn't start working from home, right, just didn't work. So Covid accelerate trends that were going on. So that's very, I think, modest to call it serendipity and luck. But I would also say it's pretty visionary. So, I, you know, here's another lesson.

You should become a natural collaborator. what is a natural collaborator and how do you become like I mean, I love the idea of collaboration. That's what the whole second half of the episode is about, how I made it, marketing, about what people we collaborate with. What do you mean by natural collaborator, and how did you become one?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: I think that one other moment I had, and I remember some time, some snippets of, wisdom I get from from people along along my career. I was in Australia, early in my career. And, you know, first of all, when I joined Australia was about 26 years old. My English was not great. Let me be clear, it was a snot, not really great.

So I had to try to really fit in, in the place that was thousands and thousands of miles away from my home town was very, very lonely down under. And you really do everything you can to succeed, because if you don't, you're back home. And my objective was to build an international career. So it was very important for me to find a way to be successful.

And one of my colleagues told me this very big advice said, there's one secret tiffin. People have to like working with you. It doesn't matter how good you are on paper, it doesn't matter how good you are at performing and generating results. People don't like you. If you're done, you're not going to go anywhere. And I always remember that people need to let you.

So of course you could say, okay, so does that mean that you need to be a people pleaser? No, I didn't say that. it just means that if people like working with you, you will find a way together to solve problems. You will find a way together to work on delivering great outcomes. So that's the first thing.

Be a likable person that so that people, when they wake up and they know they have a meeting with you, they look forward to seeing you. They want to collaborate with you, or they come to you because they know you can help them. You can solve problems, right? And it matters. It matters a great deal the way you behave, the way you conduct yourself as a colleague, as a partner matters to people.

You know, there's this, sentence I believe it is. People always remember how you make them feel. That is so true. And if you want to thrive and and and to really go up in your career, that's one key diplomacy, finding a way to work well with people and just being the person that people want in the room with them.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. So I, I agree with being likable and I think that's a very good point. I think that's, you know, sometimes, we say to jerks, get ahead in business or, you know, I won't use other words like, that's the way to do it. So I agree with being likable. Well, let me ask this. When it comes to collaboration, if you had a great example before, but you were more, like in kind of in a peer role, right, where you between those two teams and kind of making things work.

But now would we talk about your CMO? You got, I think we said a team of 60. And I wonder, how does collaboration change when you become a leader? Because you are not on equal footing with the people you're trying to collaborate with, right. So, for example, you know, you're you're higher in the org chart. So I, I interviewed Paul Brzezinski, the CEO and founder of Epicenter Experience.

And one of his lessons was when it comes to collaboration, there's no place for top down management when creating something new. And he told a story that really stuck with him earlier in his career, he was working with Arbitron and he was, meeting with Apple iTunes. It was to start and help them with the measurement. And he had this big meeting, and it wasn't till the end of the meeting that he realized the person that he met with was the whole head of iTunes, and because the guy didn't even share his title right.

He was just so humble. And I thought that was a great example. But for you, like, how do you live now? Now that you are, you're at the top of the tree, right? Or like not the CEO, but very close there. How did that change how you collaborate?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: Well, I'll show the story of, how I became CMO in the first place and how I learned to actually, lead leaders. Because when you become a chief of something, you don't just lead teams, you lead leaders. And that's a big one. So obviously, by by definition, you have to learn to collaborate with other leaders. The one person that inspired me on my journey is Barack Obama, believe it or not.

So was reading his biography. I was really trying to understand how someone who only had two years in the Senate became president and was able to actually command the be the chief of armies and command so many, you know, powerful leaders without having such experience himself. It's quite a feat and did it twice. So I was like, how did he manage to do this?

And I read, I read about him and he would you would come to meetings with people were like 30 years older than him, had decades long experience, decades more expertise than him. That's the point, isn't it? Is you have to surround yourself with great leaders and great people and, and, and just really seek advice from the people who are at the table with you.

So to me, the way I learned to do it is just hire great leaders around me and accept that I'm not the smartest in the room. My job is to hire the smarter people. If I think I'm going to be the smartest one, there's no way I can collaborate effectively with great minds. There's always going to be this power struggle.

Instead, I'm far more comfortable hiring. People are extremely competent. Someone in me in their in their function. Empower them and seek advice and ask for help. So a typical meeting would be I have today three strong leaders in my team and I always ask questions, hey, how would you do this? Help me understand how we can get from this point to another.

What is your advice? What do you recommend? And when I do this, I turn, first of all, I turn the accountability to them, but I give them a chance to lead to leading me indirectly, of course, but to lead with a recommended direction. And and I find this to be extremely powerful. That to me, is the key to collaboration.

In fact, it's the key to leadership. And it's a mental switch you need to do to your point, when you go from being a peer and collaborator to being a leader, you actually have to push the accountability down to your own leaders, gives them an ability to actually lead back up to you. So it's it's a it's a reverse process.

And it's not necessarily always a natural one for people. But once you get it, once you understand the power of it, you can hardly come back. And that's where you you learn to just really, empower teams and, and get the best out of them.

Daniel Burstein: Well, we're going to talk much more about collaborating. Like I said, that's the whole second half of the episode. We talk about lessons from people we collaborated with. but first I should mention that the how I Made It in Marketing podcast is underwritten by Mech Labs, the parent organization of marketing Sherpa MacLeods. I now has 13 expert assistants to help you with your marketing, along with a guided head, a guided headline writing pathway to write a powerful headline, all trained on a methodology built on the results from 10,000 marketing experiments.

It's totally free. You don't even have to register for now, just go to Mech Labs eye.com and start using it. That's Mech Labs a.com to get artificial intelligence working for your marketing. All right, let's take a look at some lessons from people you collaborated with. you mentioned Alicia Tillman, the CMO of Delta Airlines, and you said from Alicia, you learned that branding shapes success for companies and leaders.

So how did you learn this loss? I mean, it seems like, kind of what we learned in, I don't know, business school and, you know, kind of the basics, but how did you actually learn it?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: So first of all, Alicia is is one of those, incredible, incredible woman. and Tim was I had the good fortune of working with her for her, when I was at at Calibra, and she inspired me every single day. She really taught me the power of personal brand and the power of brand in general for any company.

So it started with when I joined Ariba. she was in the middle of rebranding, the company. So it's interesting to look at the process itself of rebranding it. It's a very intense process because you have to go deep into the identity of a company. You have to really ask, what is the purpose of the company and how is it different, or how is that the same, but, somewhat different, you know what I mean?

You have to continue to be true to the purpose of the company, but you have to make sure that the brand meets the moment. And that's exactly what she did. And first of all, she surrounded herself with great agencies and great minds to do it. So that was the first the first one that that I thought was important.

And quality, the quality of the work was really important for her. It had to feel right. It had to feel highly qualitative. So how do you get to a point where you know what's really qualitative versus what's not? Here's my hint. You have to exhibit that yourself. I'm going to say it again. You have to exhibit that quality.

You have to strive for high quality, high branding yourself. So every daily show would lead by example. It's someone who used to live in Jersey. She is commute, I think four hours per day, two hours each time. She would always come in Piccadilly dressed impeccably, showing always, always, always showing and displaying a higher quality of brand. And for, she was seeking out always the highest level of quality in the work.

So if it was just not hitting that, that that quality level, she would just respectfully send the work back and just ask for the team to push it a little bit more, just a little bit more. But exhibiting the quality means you have to lead the quality yourself. And and she really taught everybody about the power of a quality brand, a beautiful branding there.

I say she was working for American Express before, so she probably learned that herself. Working for a very high quality brand. And it matters. It really matters. In addition to talk to her many times, and she said that she was observing and, the way she was looking at talent succession plan, she was looking at someone. It would be the full package.

So someone who exhibits quality, someone who is highly qualitatively branded. Because when you're in a role like assembly to represent the company. So you have to be always very well, well put together and someone who just has that executive presence or the ability to just really exhibit, great elegance, qualitative, presence. And I saw to me that this was one really important thing.

And I will tell you, everything matters. The way you dress, the way you speak, the way you walk, your presents like you come in the room and you have to exhibit all of those things. So does your brand. The brand of company has to be so good and consistently done that it becomes uniquely differentiated because of its intrinsic quality.

So you have to strive for quality. And my view is what makes a great brand, what it is. And you have to do it consistently. And that's, that's the key in my view, is consistency and the ability to repeat that over and over in a very consistent way. Whatever the style, is chosen matters also a great deal.

Daniel Burstein: So let's talk about I love this because I, this is something I've thought about a lot. Let's talk about how to scale this to humans, because I think that's where it really gets difficult. Right? Because I feel like every customer touchpoint is a thing of value. Right. But how do you scale that brand through human. So it's one thing to say, oh, our brand is going to be perfect in the Wall Street Journal ad, and it's going to be perfect on the website, and they're going to walk into that event and it's going to be so powerful.

I'll give you one small example from my own career. This is what got me think of it. Years ago, I was I got a, washing machine, I think, or something like that from OneNote from a major store. Right. And, it was before I work from home, so I actually came home to wait for it. I'm working, and I see here this big, clunky truck driving past my house.

I live on a cul de sac, so I knew they were like turning around and but it was like some big rental truck with like a trailer behind it. Or I was like, oh, that's not that's not my washing machine or whatever. And then it comes back around and yeah, sure enough, someone comes out. They're just wearing whatever t shirt and shorts they have, whatever rental truck, and they bring in my washing machine and put it in.

And I was just thinking I was like, what was the business decision behind that? Because I could see in that meeting room there's someone in charge of services or delivery logistics that says we could save 10% by going with outsourced contractor. Right. But where was marketing to say, wait a minute, there's a certain brand experience where they bought this, you know, in our showroom, and then someone's going to show up, walk into their house and do these things in their house and have that experience, which was totally unbranded and just seemed like any random person off the street.

So that's where I ask you to, and I challenge you. Where does that come in? Where again, we can have that perfect header or event, but how do you get each person that represents your brand to actually represent it in the way you want? Like I said, in that high quality way.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: So.

let me try to answer this with giving also perhaps some examples. I actually strive to bring consistency in what I do as a marketer every day. And one thing I'm very big on is integrated marketing. What I mean by that is, for example, if we launch a team, we launch a product, we launch a program. What I expect from from my team is an integrated plan into it.

Easier said than done, obviously. Right. What I mean by this is like, I want to see what the brand team is doing. The creative team. I want to see what the social team's doing, that the engine plan, pre-ordering and post. I want to see the enablement strategy. You get where I'm going and we single part of the plan.

It's to be connected, sequenced, and there has to be some coordinated effort across multiple cross-functional teams. And everybody keeps telling me this can't be done. We are too early. We don't have the processes. I've heard that so many times I can't even count. But here's the key you have to start with a vision. You need to really set the gold standard.

You need to really lead with what I call the North Star vision. Everybody should have a North Star vision. In short, you need to set expectations about the high bar quality and never put it down. If you lower the bar, people will just reach the lowest level of the bar because you did lower that bar. So my goal is always to raise the bar and say, this is what a true integrated experience should look like, and work the team toward that goal.

Is it going to be perfect? No. Usually takes me a year to really bring teams and, you know, show them how to build truly integrated plans. And it always starts the same way. It's too hard to do. We don't have the processes. We don't have you asking something impossible. I'm like, oh, really? That true? Because it's my first CMO stint and I do that every time and every time the teams are learning.

So it's also making people do things that they don't yet believe in or they don't yet see. But you didn't do it. You didn't. You've done that before. So you know the outcome. You know they will get there. The brand is the same. You believe in the brand. You have a purpose here. The vision. You give a North Star to the teams and you train them through it and you manage to progress.

It may take six months, it may take a year, but they will eventually get there because you give them a North Star, and your North Star was the high bar, and you have to repeat and reiterate that North Star on a very regular basis at every chance you have. So you have all hands, you have communications. Just reiterate the brand, the expectation on the quality of the brand, reward teams when you see them reach a milestone.

So when they've used a good brand to tell them you've done a great job, it looks phenomenal. Just try to train them to to to do it and monitor the progress as you go through. The other element which is critical is enablement. Teams want know what's great, looks like, or won't even practice what great looks like unless you teach them how to do it.

So I really believe in the ability to enable teams really well. You could create a Brant. It's a training in the box, an ability to just really get the teams to to a point where that becomes second nature for them, but they have to learn it's a new muscle. So enablement is also very key in in driving whatever transformation, especially on the brand side, you you need.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. And something you mentioned earlier when we were talking and I think it probably ties into this lesson as well. your next lesson, empowerment and accountability. Cultivate leadership at every level. I would imagine when you're talking about that cross brand that, you know, all the way across the organization branding, it's at a Paramount and accountability that you're putting at every level in your organization.

You mentioned you learned this from Barry Padgett, the CEO of And Impurity. How did you learn that from? Barry seems like such a key leadership lesson.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: there is one of my all time favorite leaders, I this Grandison, someone who was just so confident in his ability to to lead. I learned it from him. First of all, we had, we had a great relationship. He was saying a few words to me. It was. Or meetings were always very short. And I got on the, two pieces of advice or wisdoms from him.

But they were always extremely valuable, and that was one of them. The ability to push the accountability down is all of us leaders have escalations. Who doesn't? Right. It becomes apparent that escalation is actually a very big deterrent to enforcing accountability. So you could have for example, to a few VP's or, direct reports coming in and not agreeing on something.

So they come to you and they basically escalate the problem. Right? it could be any kind of problem. It it's not just on the unique to to marketing. It could happen. The first question they usually ask is, have you talked to each other? Did you pick up the phone? Did you actually have a conversation before you escalated to me?

And I will tell you, nine times out of ten, they didn't talk to each other. So that's the first. So the first rule is pushing the accountability means you have to hold the teams responsible for their behavior and be like fixing what the things together is sort of escalating it back to me. So that's usually a typical question asked.

Did you talk to the person? the second one is the where's a teams is if you disagree in front of me as peers, it means you haven't figured it out. So I don't want to be your brainstorm buddy. I'm going to ask you to figure out a path, and then you come back to me when you on which usually works, it means that there are probably a week or two away from brainstorming with each other aligning.

But the goal is you have to come to me with a joint approach. If you can't, then okay, then all of a sudden then there's probably a bigger alignment issue and then we probably need to work through a process of resetting rules and expectations and KPIs. But if all of these have been done, you just need to head and come back with a joint proposition.

So I always push it back, always push it down and be like, if you are an expert, if I have hired you as an expert, you should advise me. You should come with an advise and an alignment, not the other way around. So I hold them accountable to figure it out, to find an answer and to collaborate better with each other.

So that's what I learned from Barry. So, and it works almost all the time, is pushing the accountability to the people you have hired who are experts, all them accountable and responsible and, and, and and then just make sure that you seek out the, the inputs from them. But if you try to fix it for them, first of all, it's called micromanagement, which I usually don't like, but it means you have a problem.

So if you if you have to intervene to fix it, it means that you leaders are not delivering what they're supposed to deliver. So you have to just reiterate that accountability one more time. And if it if you see that as a pattern, they can't hold that to that accountability, then obviously you have a a bigger challenge.

Daniel Burstein: So how do you use those same skills that you're teaching your team to use within the C-suite, within your peers, presenting to CEOs, chairmen, investors, analyst boards? because, for example, when I interviewed, Regina de Mars, director of content marketing and strategy at First National Bank, on how I mean IT marketing, one of her lessons was lead by example rather than micromanaging like you're talking about.

And she talked about early in her career, she learned that a Weber Shandwick and I you know, I wonder for you like now like, yes, you're teaching those skills to your team. I'm sure you know, you have to lead by example as well, right? If you could teach this and then they see the C-suite and it's, oh my gosh, you know, there's all these like territory battles or whatever political battles would work.

So have you learned anything? And I think I think this is your fourth CMO role. We talked about, like in coming into that CMO role and how you work with your peers in the C-suite.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: Yeah. So I try as much as I can to apply the same. So what I typically do is, for example, we have to present to a president. I, typically going to go to our head of strategy and operation, who is somebody who's worked with him four times to seek advice, prepare, do, do a prep with, with that person.

So you probably you have to know who are the people called the true power, who hold the true line of influence that's part of your part of your job. Think of it as you need to sign an act of Congress, and you need to find within the Congress who holds the cards and who has access, and who is capable of just giving you the right inputs.

It's no different. It's the same thing. So I typically go to or SVP of Strategy and Operations because he has a pretty good idea of what's going to work and what's not going to work and prepare, and it works all the time. So it's it's just having an ability to prep as a team, seek advice from the advisors and be like, how do you think Thomas would do this?

Do I have the right flow or do I have the right level of information? Is it detailed enough? And I put there immensely with the people in the know ahead. And that's true partnership. And and believe it or not, when I ask for help, help always comes. If you ask genuinely for help with people. and and and I'm grateful for it and give them credit.

You know, first of all, they'll work with you again, but they'll enjoy working with you because you're problem solving together, which is intellectually gratifying to anyone. So I try to do that as much as I can with, with my colleagues. Sometimes we we, we power together before we go and present to a boss and we're like, okay, how do we come together as a single voice?

So it's the same thing is we don't want to appear disjointed or, misaligned in front of our leadership or the leadership's leadership. So let's put that together and sign off on something as a unit versus singular teams.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. The meeting before the meeting. Right.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: Correct.

Daniel Burstein: one last lesson. You say you said bridge marketing and product for collaborative growth. I think this is the the, lesson we talked about earlier, but you said you learned this from Sudhir Bhojwani, the co-founder and CEO of Oral lab. So what role did Sudhir play in that story we heard earlier, and what did you learn?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: Yeah. So remember when I moved to the building. So Sudhir is the boss of that building. So very, very quickly when I, when I joined Ariba and decided to move to the the building of the product team, it was very clear that Sudhir was, was the person who was really holding the cord and he was just the most wonderful person.

But he was he was holding a lot of, power, but good power in the sense that he had a following. People come and if seduced said, hey, we need to continue to code. And I'm going to order 50 pizzas for the whole floor, and we need to stay. Everybody would stay if he was like, hey, we need to come back on a Saturday because we are two months from launching on stage and we really, really need to push, right?

Everybody would come, including myself. So I observed him. I took the time to understand a how he thinks, how he works, how he created such a following and respect and command over his team. So you have to just really, really observe how it's done. What I've learned from him is, he was very much into details. You wanted words to be exact.

He wanted the experience and the brand to reflect exactly his product and what I learned. A tangible, valuable lesson I learned from him is product people. They build the product. It's their baby. It matters to them. This put this sweat in there. It's it's highly complex to do. And it as a marketer you come up with the wrong positioning and and the wrong message.

And it's offensive to them because it's it's like you're dressing the baby the wrong way, right? You it's it's like the you're taking your baby out and it's cold and you don't put enough closing on them like nobody would. So. Right. It's the same. It feels the same for them. So I developed some level of empathy and understanding of how product leaders think about the product.

It's their baby. So you have to be deeply connected to the way they see the baby in a way and try to address it appropriately. So one example I had is when we had to work about launching this product called Guided Buying. It was guided by procurement and we had to find a slogan. We had to find a way to work through it and a short description.

So, he had his way of looking at the description. So I had a column was so design put on how it should ring. Then I had the agency input and then I had the CEO input, and I had to work through three variations to see which variation would work. And it was, it was an exchange. Right?

It was really a partnership across the CEO Sudhir, in the marketing agency. And we found a way because we would put it side by side, the three options we would test and run and, and, and do it. But the the best way to me to collaborate is to get people into the the process with you, not put them aside from it, but just have them directly engaged and you you eventually find a way.

But the first thing is have them engage, respect their work, respect their inputs, and then negotiate at all. Comes down to negotiating, but they have to be part of it.

Daniel Burstein: So there's a lot of voices in that room, like talk about when you're collaborating. And I wonder how do you also bring the voice of the customer into that room? Because I, I interviewed, on some Landis on, how I made it marketing. She's a vice president of marketing for octane. One of her lessons was to market effectively.

You have to think beyond what your product does. You have to understand the role it plays in your customers lives. And one thing I really like what she did when she went to our organization. They did, their financing for dealerships of, like power supplies and, she interviewed the customers, like, you know, we talked about you did.

But one thing that she really got into, too, was understanding their lives outside of the product itself and then understanding, okay, how does the product tie into, you know, their goals in their life, which I thought was brilliant. And so you talked a lot about, you know, even previously customer interviews you did early in your career and how you got close to the customer.

So I wonder in these situations, as we got product, we got more come got the CEO, we got the marketing agency. Oh my gosh, we had so much going on. How do we make sure we bring the voice of the customer in there as well?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: I love that question because this is at the core of what we do here. And amplitude. So one of the one of the things we we do as a company is we offer user behavior insights to any company wants to Anderson. Deep seek to deeply understand what users want across the experience. The customer journey, whether it's, offline or online journey and from what seeking and understanding what they want, what makes them come back, purchase again, what makes them drop off and not complete any, any online experience requires access to data, input, feedback.

It's part of the it's part of the process. So any process that you start with is usually a life cycle from ideation to strategy to planning to building, to executing, to measuring. You've got to seek out to back so you can get feedback either qualitative or quantitative feedback. So you could get anecdotal qualitative feedback in the process. You could do tabs customer cabs.

You could run surveys. You could do all kinds of inputs. That gives you that qualitative sit back that you need. Or you can read the data, the customer data speak. That to me is at the core of everything we should do. In fact, I actually really believe that data is the greatest unifier and the greatest equalizer you can use as a marketer, but also as a product leader, and informs the insights that you get out of data, informs strategy, informs action.

Right. So, so in that particular case, I'll give you a very tangible example that happened to us last year with our president. We wanted to redo our Apple Sitcom home homepage. Lots of opinions here. When it comes to a home page the color, the placement, the tagline, the navigation bar and I'll always remember. And if Thomas listens, does it Pasco podcast hopefully will laugh with me.

He didn't like the color that the brand team had put as an option. He preferred the darker version of the color, so we were like Little Thomas, you know, we actually really believe that the lighter color is is very much the type of color that audience going to like, for X and Y reasons. So you still like.

Yeah, but I don't like it. We should, we should. Bo is a dark color. So what we did is experiment. We ab tested the two colors. You want to bet which color worked best?

Daniel Burstein: Oh, the dark color, no question. Looks richer.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: No.

Daniel Burstein: Was it the.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: Light color was not the dark color. But how would you know unless you run the test and the data tells you so we let the data tell the the real story. We can back to him. And he was like, oh, I was wrong. You respected the feedback because the data showed what customers actually what users and customers prefer.

So data is the answer.

Daniel Burstein: I love that, actually.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: I had a lot of a lot of times to to us, in fact missing data sounds.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. And I love the AB testing example. At one point I interviewed, the team behind the Obama reelection campaign. You're talking about Obama before, and at the point they had done more AB testing than any other organization ever, like $500 million worth. And they even they said 5050. We were no better than chance in guessing. We were no better than a coin flip.

So I love that example. But, it brings up you talked about so many different things about what it means to be a marketer in our conversation. If you had to break it down. Tiffin. What are the key qualities of an effective marketer?

Tiffen Dano Kwan: well, it with empathy. Have empathy for your team, for your customer, whether it's internal customer, external consumer, vicarious intellectual curiosity. It's just really important. As a marketer, you have to be always steps ahead of others. What are the trends in a look at why marketing is fast evolving? The marketing today is very different than marketing. 510 years ago, so you have to be constantly ahead of the trends to deeply understand them.

But you have to be open, intellectually open and curious. otherwise you're going to be left behind. Like we can no longer just no longer just run the same playbook that we did a couple of years ago. So intellectual curiosity, empathy, data, you have to be comfortable with data. So if you don't have some level of dashboarding and in front of you every day, such as Tableau, Salesforce or even amplitude, if you're looking at your web product metrics, analytics and analytics, then I strongly suggest you you get trained on it.

You asked, to to be trained on it because this this is what's going to happen to any marketer just having an ability to really, lead with, with data. I will tell you why, whenever my teams are coming up with a proposal of any kind, my my first question is, what's the projected outcome? What do you seek out to achieve?

What are your objectives? Well, the estimated outcomes, if you don't know then I said, well, come back, figure it out, work with the teams. But we cannot start something we can't measure. So measurement matters a great deal to, to to being like I would say, modern marketer. so empathy data, an ability to be intellectually curious would, would probably be, some of those.

And the last but not least, think in an integrated fashion. Don't just think into your own silo or your own KPI. Marketing is the sum of many cross-functional, you know, parts. When you run marketing, you not only have to optimize for your channel, the marketing channel, but sometimes you have to optimize for other channels, sales channels, partner channels.

For example, if you're in a B2B space where you have a a sales led model, you have to optimize for, many parts of the organization, brand does not just apply to a marketing team, brand applies to a company to customers. So you have by definition, you have to really optimize for a much larger audience than just yourself and your team.

So you have to be far more integrated, have an integrated vision into what you do, to support the company, to support the customers.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you for sharing these lessons and these stories with our curious audience. I learned so much from you then.

Tiffen Dano Kwan: I'm glad I had a chance to share these stories with you. Daniel.

Daniel Burstein: And thanks to everyone for listening.

Outro: Thank you for joining us for how I made it in marketing with Daniel Burstein. Now that you've gotten inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for your next marketing campaign. From Marketing Sherpa's extensive library of free case studies at Marketing sherpa.com. That's marketing A.com.

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