February 07, 2022

500 Mangled, Stretchy Rubber Guys: Make sure you have the right marketing partner for your super creative plan – Podcast Episode #3


Know your worth.

In our latest podcast episode, I talk to a marketing leader who shares one of the biggest personal mistakes from the first 10 years of her career – not negotiating her compensation package.

If you are averse to negotiating, you may think this leader is a cutthroat, zero-sum, command-and-control businessperson.

On the contrary, she is one of the nicest people I have ever interviewed – a not inconsequential characteristic in the current wave of resignations where data shows most workers will quit a mean, unappreciative boss.

Get ideas for vendor selection, hiring, firing, compensation negotiations and much more. Listen in to hear what Michelle Burrows, CMO, Splashtop has learned in a career that has included managing teams ranging in size from three to 130.

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

500 Mangled, Stretchy Rubber Guys: Make sure you have the right marketing partner for your super creative plan – Podcast Episode #3

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Trust your gut – always, especially in regard to hiring and retention decisions. Negotiate – and know your worth.

These are a few of the lessons Michelle Burrows, CMO, Splashtop shared with me in Episode #3 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Google Podcasts | Listen in Amazon Music

We discussed:

  • Make sure you have the right partner for what you want to do: Why a test direct marketing campaign of 500 dimensional mailers went awry
  • Trust your gut always…especially regarding hiring and retention decisions: The chief marketing officer shares what she learned from leading teams ranging in size from three to 130, including the hiring decision that she realized was a mistake after only three weeks. “What you’ll tolerate speaks volumes to the rest of the organization,” she said.
  • Negotiate, and know your worth: A tactic she overlooked for the first 10 years of her career

Burrows also shared lessons she gained from the people she collaborated with in her career:

  • Dick Schulte, Executive Coach, Services, Optiv Security: how to work in a different country, when a move to Europe that was supposed to last six weeks to three months (max) turned into a five-year stay
  • Denise Persson, CMO, Snowflake: humility from a leader who went on to help launch one of the most successful IPOs ever
  • Mariann McDonagh, CMO, WorkFusion: heart-centered leadership

Articles (and a webinar replay) mentioned in this episode:

B2B Social Media Marketing: DocuSign's targeted LinkedIn InMail strategy creates 3 large pipeline opportunities – interview with Meagen Eisenberg

What are the most valuable marketing skills? (with free resources to improve those skills) – includes advice on an interview question to discover how well the candidate understood customers in their previous role

14 Strategies for Hiring and Retaining Marketing Professionals – discusses some ways to attract employees beyond salary, such as sabbaticals, four-day workweeks, extra paid time off, and more

The De-Branding Campaign: When customers make fun of your new product launch (Episode #2) – Everyone in the organization has an opinion on marketing


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

Daniel Burstein: When we think about our marketing teams here, there's the people to the right and the left of us in our same building or we're working from home, they're the people we see on Zoom every week that we work in the same company with.

But another essential element of our marketing teams. Those vendor partners, those agencies, those consultants, they're key to help the things we make in marketing. We're going to talk about a really fun, engaging story with our guest about that today and what you can learn from that.

We're also going to talk about how to hire, when it's time to let someone go on your team, how to manage your own career. Plus, we'll discuss humility, heart centered leadership and learning to work in a different country, all with our guest, joining me now, Michelle Burrows, the CMO of Splash Top. Thanks for joining us, Michelle.

Michelle Burrows: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It's such a delight. Thank you.

Daniel Burstein: Let's take a quick run just to look at your LinkedIn real quick. Throw a few things out there. We've got women in leadership program at the Wharton School. We've got Verint Systems, Rally Software Development, which is now CA Technologies, Comcast business, a whole bunch of other roles in there. Which brings us to today, the CMO of Splash Top. Tell us a little bit about your role right now.

Michelle Burrows: Oh, I'm having so much fun. So, I've been at splash top for about seven months and I was brought in really to overhaul our positioning, our messaging, our demand gen, our brand, all of it. And so far, I've doubled the size of the team. We're in the midst of just major shifts all over the company, and we're just having a lot of fun doing it. And I'm surrounded by folks who are humble and have gratitude as one of their core values. So, it's just a lot of fun.

Daniel Burstein: That sounds great. And if anyone else is looking to grow their team these days, it's very hard. Michelle is going to talk about some of the things she's learned about that in just a bit, but the first one I want to get to, I love this story. I love this story because like I said, I experienced the same thing on the other side, working for the vendor.

You were working with, you had a very trusted partner, a very trusted agency partner, and you tried to do something new with them. You want it. You want to tell us about that.

Michelle Burrows: Oh, I did. This was one of the biggest uh-oh’s I've ever had. So, we had an ad agency that we were working with when I was at Verint, years and years ago and we loved them. They did some really great work for us in print advertising. We did a number of programs with them, love them, love them.

And so, we wanted to do a direct mail program. So, I went to them, and I said, “hey, we want to do a direct mail program. Do you do this?”

And they said, not really our core competency, but we can. Yeah, absolutely. So we went forward and they came up with this super creative program and Verint Systems is part contact center, part security. And so, we were targeting security folks and security personas. And one of the messages we were trying to get across is, “hey, you're stretched really thin.”

So, they had come up with this stretchy rubber guy that went on the outside of a direct mailer. Well, we mailed it in July, and I don't know if anyone is familiar with what happens to elastic when it gets really hot and it stretches out. But what happens is it breaks, and we mailed out 500, including a test to both me and my boss at the time, and we ended up, I opened the whole package, and I was really excited. I was like, oh, I wonder how the execution is? And we literally had mangled plastic guys hanging off looking like we killed the cute little plastic person, and they were all hanging by their hands. And just as I got mine, my boss got hers and I was on the phone and I was like, it was only 500, it was only 500!

It was just a really good lesson of work with the experts when you can. If we had call to direct mail company and said, “hey, we want to do this campaign.” It would have known that plastic doesn't perform well in the summer, so it was just really, you know, work with expertise when you're looking to do something.

Daniel Burstein: I mean, it sounds like another good lesson for anyone sending direct mail campaigns is send the test before you send it out to your customers.

Michelle Burrows: Yeah, that is absolutely a good one too.

Daniel Burstein: So, I had a similar experience, I'll tell you, and I kind of took a different lesson from it, but correct me if there's something else you see, you can learn from this. So, I was working for an advertising agency, and we were working with this major Fortune 500 real estate developer who had done mass market communities and homes, mostly, it was moving into really high-end real estate.

And so, their first community was on the ocean, had a golf course, is beautiful, and they have these events where they try to bring everyone there and then sign up and buy the lots on the spot. But the problem is, all you see at that point is sand right there, sand and ocean. You don't see the community center, what it’s actually going to be like? So, we had this idea to do this box mailer. The box mailer was super popular in the box. We included like something for the smell, you know, the sound of the ocean, all these all your different senses to experience. It's super popular.

So, what happens is there's regional VPs with all these properties, and now they were all at that event because it was a launch event. So now they all want to one up each other, they all want to one up each other. And so, we're just doing more complex box mailers. And finally, we get to the point. I get this idea. Let's do would let's do an actual wood mailer.

So, my print producer at the time, he was super busy, overwhelmed, had no experience. I said, no problem. I'll find a new vendor, you know, not work with, you know, typically we work with local trusted vendors. I'll find a new vendor, found a vendor to make wood boxes. So, we did two properties at the same time. First, I did the local property, which was less high risk, right? We did this mahogany box because it had a marina. It was on the intercoastal mahogany like navigation. You know, brass, beautiful worked great.

The second one we did was in the mountains of North Carolina on a lake. And so, we had the idea to do cedar, right, smelled beautiful. We do these boxes and so we get them shipped to the agency. And then we were going to fulfill and actually put all the different things in the box. And what we noticed is the latches on the box are breaking off and we're like, “well, is it just one or two?” And the latches keep breaking off, and we're like, you know, “shoot what's going on here?”

And so, you know, I'm on the phone with the vendor, you know, really worried and stuff. And at some point, he comes to realize he's like, “well, mahogany is a hardwood. And the screws, you know, fit really tightly in there. But cedar is kind of a soft wood. So yeah, the latches are breaking off.” And at some point he just gives up and he's like, “hey, sorry, like, I know you're not going to pay me the second half of the mahogany project, and you're not going to pay me the second half of this project.” So, we were on our own. So long story short, now we got to figure out what to do with all these boxes with our big client.

And so, we found out, you know, kind of team comes together. We could drill a hole through, and you could put a little nut on the other side to attach it, so it's not screwed into the wood. The problem is you've got to do that eight times to each box. So fortunately, fortunately, we had in our building, in the lobby there was a concierge. She was a type of great woman who liked anything you threw at her and we were like hey, we need this, she’ll figure this out. So, we just went to her and said “hey, we need eight holes screwed into these boxes, 500 boxes or however many and all these nuts put on, is this something you could do?”

She ends up, we use that we use an empty office in somewhere in the building. She brings her family in, and they just go through and going through and fixing these.

Michelle Burrows: Oh my gosh…

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, it was a nightmare. I even remember comically, at one point, we see the FedEx guy bring in more of these boxes, and they were stacked too high and they just all spilled over like this keeps getting worse. But the punchline end of the story was that the event was super successful. The client loved them; the client had no idea they were like these are fantastic. You know, the client loved it, won an award for it and stuff. So never did of wood box again.

Yeah, scrub that, we are sticking to cardboard, we are sticking to our trusted vendors. I can’t trust this vendor, right? But the lesson I took Michelle, and I'm sure there's probably five more here is that, you know, when you push the envelope, sometimes you're going to break a few eggs, but that's kind of what we need to do as marketers.

You know, if we just do what we're comfortable with, we know it's going to work, but we never really kind of change and push and create things. And it's kind of, it's why we launched this, this podcast, like we were saying before we start recording Marketing Sherpa is more known for, you know, written case studies, but we're trying something new to engage the audience.

I'm sure things are going to mess up. The first time we tried to have this conversation my internet broke. We couldn't meet, so sure thing is going to go wrong. But I think, that's my thought encouragement. Hey, it's OK. Michelle's had these two things happen, I've had them, but push the envelope, things are going to happen. Is there anything I missed, Michelle? Is there anything I should done different? Maybe there's a better lesson I could have gotten.

Michelle Burrows: You know what? I don't think there is. I do think sometimes when you push the envelope, you do break things and you have to just say you always have to be in this state of it's so cheesy to say this, but you always have to go, well, what did I learn from this experience? And as long as you can take away some sort of learning, I think it was all worth it.

Daniel Burstein: I love that, and actually that's why we have this podcast to seek and to learn from other marketers’ mistakes. Just listen in and hear all the mistakes everyone else made. Maybe you could avoid those.

Michelle Burrows: Right, right, right, right. I mean, I'll tell you, actually, when I was making the transition from VP of Demand Gen to CMO, I called folks like Megan Eisenberg and others who had made a similar transition. I said, “what are all the mistakes you made and what should I learn from them?” And that's everything I've done in my career. I've learned it from others. Honestly.

Daniel Burstein: That's great. Megan's great. We actually, back when we had a webinar series, we did a webinar with her. We learned a lot from her. Let's talk about the next lesson that we can learn from you. And this is very prescient today where, you know, hiring has become very difficult. Building your team has become very difficult. You talk about trusting your gut when it comes to hiring and retention decisions. And so, you've led teams from three people to 130 people. And so, take us first to that time where you need to let someone go like an example.

Michelle Burrows: I think this is always such a hard thing. So, I always want to give somebody 1,000,000 chances, and I often think, “oh, it must be me.” You know, that's where I go first. And so, when I joined a Fortune 50 company, and I was told I had a personnel issue at the at the outset and that I would probably need to let this person go. And my big worry is, well, this person knows where all “the bodies are buried”. They have so much institutional knowledge. There is no way I can let this person go.

And it took months and way too long before I finally made the decision to say, Yeah, this has to happen. And one of the things that I found is what I thought would happen is that everything would fall to pieces. And that core knowledge would walk out the door and there would be a moment of just absolute sort of a mess. A tornado would ensue.

What I found instead is the organization took a collective breath. And what I mean by that is, I think when you have somebody on the team that either isn't pulling their weight or is toxic, everybody on the team sort of goes down to that level.

So, it's sort of the lowest level. What you'll tolerate speaks volumes to the rest of the organization. So, it's not it doesn't just impact the folks that have day to day interactions with that person it affects the entire team. So that toxicity was a real learning experience for me and taught me when you feel like, “hey, there is an issue here, act on it earlier. Don't wait.”

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I love that example. I've definitely been on those teams were kind of shaking your head. Younger in my career, you know, like thinking, what's management doing? This person obviously is kind of like toxic, toxics a good word, toxic to the organization.

So actually, what it makes me think of not a market example. When I lived in college, I had three roommates and you know, one of them is a friend of ours, but he was kind of toxic and some friends who visit would always notice they're like, “hey, when that guy is there, you're all just like, hidden in your bedrooms. But when that guy's not there, you're all like hanging out in the kitchen together, hanging out living room.”

And it's really amazing. Like, we talk about this as, oh, it's just a work environment, but it's really more than that. It's, I don't want to use the word family, but it is some sort of kind of tribe or something, right? And when something is off in that tribe, when a person's off it, just it messes up the balance.

Michelle Burrows: It does. It does, indeed.

Daniel Burstein: So that's an example of, hey, someone on your team that you had to let go. Let's talk about hiring decisions. You mentioned doubling your team now again. I mean, I think almost everyone is trying to hire now, grow their departments. What's a story or lesson you learned there?

Michelle Burrows: Yeah. So, you know, a number of years ago, I had been looking to fill a key role in my organization, and the role was open for months and months. We were outsourcing. It was so incredibly painful. And so, I interviewed somebody, and something just seemed off. And I, I attributed it to it being me, and I was like, I'm sure this person will be fine. I really, really need this role. It can’t sit open anymore. So, I hired out of desperation. And then almost within weeks of this person starting, I knew that I had made a grave mistake.

And at that point, you have somebody in, you’re now training them. You are introducing them to other people in the organization. You can't just exit immediately. And I had to live with that big mistake for months and months until they moved on to another organization.

So, my big takeaway from that is trust your gut, I mean, in marketing we often want data, but hiring decisions are data. Do you have the skill set but also your gut? Does the person fit within the culture? And do you feel good about who he or she or they are?

Daniel Burstein:  Yeah, I like that. I think that's an especially prescient story for now, when so many leaders might be somewhat desperate for hiring and figuring, “hey, we got to, there's not a lot of, you know, people out there. We've got to fill the role with someone.”

You know, earlier in my career, we're really trying to fill a role and I was frustrated, and I was just ready to hire someone and our H.R. director said, Look, you know, this person's not a right, just wait, you know, and I told them like Lisa we've had this job opening out there for so long. Who else is going to come in? And the very next interview, the very next interview the guy just hit out of the park. He was fantastic, ended up working with him for ten years.

I remember he even started on my birthday. I just called him my birthday gift because he was so perfect, and it was in that case it was worth waiting. But I know it can be tough. So when you're when you're trying to look for that, right hire? Are there any interview questions that you're like that you found to be really helpful or really insightful and learning about that person and really seeing if there are going to be a good fit?

Michelle Burrows: So actually, this is sort of funny. I thought I had this great interview question. So, years ago, I was talking to my sister, who's an academia, and she, she and I always compare stories of academia vs. you know, sort of the corporate life.

And a couple of years ago, I was saying to her I was heavily, heavily hiring. And she said, “what do you ask?” And I said, “I often ask, what makes you laugh or what do you find funny?” And she just looked at me and said, “did someone ever say your stupid questions? So, I just had to stop saying that.”

The insightful questions I ask. About what do you hope to learn in the next three to five years instead of saying to somebody where do you want to be because then you get sort of back the answer I want to be a manager, I want to have people that work for me.

I want to really hear what do people want to learn? What areas do they feel like they want to expand their career? Because I feel like that's really telling. I also want to learn why this company, why this company now and why this role and that's real. I mean, those are basic, but I think what do you want to learn in the next three to five years is pretty insightful.

Daniel Burstein: I like that I think when we're hiring, you know, we always have to look at also where is there capacity for growth and not individuals, I think that's a great question that that helps illustrate it. We recently wrote an article with hiring tips and tips on recruiting and attracting marketers, and there was a great question that someone brought up there, which I had never heard before, but I thought I just loved it.

It was – tell me about the customer for a brand you worked on, either directly or a client’s brand.” And I thought, well, that's just a great question to see. Like, how intimate did that person really get about the customer? How much do they really care, know and understand the question?

Michelle Burrows: That's a great question. I'm stealing that!

Daniel Burstein: Use it! Everyone listening should steal that. So, my favorite question, I don’t know if it is a good one or not, but I would always love. I would always ask, you know, “hey, tell me a story, tell me a story. Teach me something. Teach me something with this story, it could be about anything. Doesn't have to be about, you know, marketing could be about anything.”

And I thought that was like, really illustrative of the person's, you know, communication skills and the types of skills that you look for in content and in marketing. And I remember one hire we had, it was great. She told me the story she taught me about knitting, but it was this I guess I use the word millennial, but this millennial knitting trend of knitting things that were totally inappropriate.

And so she, you know, I forgot what she knitted, but it was something, you know, it wasn't a typical grandma thing you would see. It was something that was inappropriate that you would normally see as knitting, and it was just so entertaining. And she told it so clearly, and she ended up being a great writer and a great communicator.

Michelle Burrows: Oh, I can imagine that's a really great question, I’m stealing that to!

Daniel Burstein:  Hey, go for it also makes the interview more fun. OK, now here. Now let's flip. Let's flip this around. So now let's say to the people listening, you're out there. Maybe you're looking for your next role. Maybe, maybe you don't have a job right now and you're hiring.

This is a great thing to do once you actually get that offer. So you mentioned that for your first ten years, you were just thrilled to get a job and you would just take what they offered you. So you want to take us to the early part of your career and what changed and how you learn to better negotiate for your package.

Michelle Burrows: Yeah, I'm so embarrassed about this, actually. So, I really, I feel lucky every day that I get to do what I what I do, and I grew up in a blue collar town north of Boston. And really throughout my career, I have really been grateful and humbled by the opportunities I've gotten.

And so, someone would offer me a job earlier in my career and I would be like, “oh, thank you so much. You've chosen me. You know, as if, like, I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy. And so, I'd be so happy when I got an offer, I'd sign it and I'd send it back.

And that's I actually think, Daniel, that that is of a primarily female thing, unfortunately. And as I, you know, moved on in my career, I found out I think there was one role I was in where there was someone else in a different in a different division of the company doing my exact same job, making so much more money than I did. And when I finally figured it out, you know, I was sort of like, Well, why? And I had a really upfront conversation. And he said, I asked, “did you ask?” And I was like, “no, I didn't ask.”

And so, I was sort of horrified about my inability to negotiate, to know my worth. And now I remember this really clearly the first time I really negotiated, and I had a job offer and I came back and said, No, I need this amount and I need this volume of stock options. And the person said to me, Gee, that'll take like an act of God to get you that. And I said, “oh, then you better get, then I think you should get moving.” And then I just stayed quiet and I didn’t say anything, I figured I had nothing to lose.

And ever since then, I have negotiated for what I think I'm worth. And I got a really good piece of advice from a mentor of mine to say you can’t think about what you make today, you have to think about what they have to pay for that specific role.  

So, say, for example, you know, you're making I don't I'm making this up $60,000 and someone is hiring for a head of marketing and it's in Silicon Valley and they would have to pay 120. It's irrelevant that you currently make 60, that the value of that job is 120.

So, I think that you always have to keep that in mind and really negotiate your worth. I just mentored somebody through a salary negotiation, and she said to me, I can't say that salary with a straight face. And I said, so practice, practice asking for that salary with a straight face over and over and over because that is what you are worth.

Daniel Burstein: So, I assume now you've been on both sides of that conversation, since you’ve lead a team of 130. So, you mentioned a few things that work well and is there anything we should avoid when we're trying to negotiate anything that just kind of sit well or.

Michelle Burrows: I would, I would. If you were interviewing, ask for what, talk about the things that are important to you upfront. Don't surprise the person that you are interviewing with. So, I'll give you an example. I had someone that I really, really liked for a particular role. We talked together three times. I had this person talk to a number of folks on my team. And then we got down to sort of, you know, the final stages. And at that point they said, “hey, it's really important to me to have a month and a half of vacation.” And I that isn't something that is our policy. I couldn't change that. And I was like, “oh, I wish you had mentioned this early in the conversation, because now we've sort of wasted each other's time.”

So, if there are key things, you know, I had another person who I interviewed for a role and lived in Silicon Valley and said upfront, I'm not willing to go to the office. And I said, “well, it looks like you live like only like 15 minutes from the office.”

And they said, “no, I'm not going to an office anymore.” OK, that's really important for me to know. So, I so I think put the things that are really important to you at the front and don't have it sort of my like, Hi I’m Michelle. And this is, you know, this is non-negotiable for me. But you have to talk about what's important early on.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, and you bring up a great point, too, it sounds like negotiation is about more than just salary, so yeah.

In the recent article you wrote again about recruiting retaining marketers. I mean, one thing we've seen a lot of agencies and brands doing is moving now to more flexible work schedules, four-day work weeks, more time off sabbaticals, some of these things. So, I'd say anyone on both sides of those conversations think about, like you said, it might take an act of God to get the salary and the shares. And maybe that doesn't work out. But what else could work out?

Well, we could keep the salary, but you'd get a four-day workweek, or you would get a month and a half off in the summer, whatever it is. So, it always seems to be, “hey, if there's a fit, let's find different ways we can provide value to each other.” So, there's a good value exchange there.

Michelle Burrows: Yeah, I love that idea of the value exchange because I do think work has shifted forever and we're not going back to focus going to an office five days a week, it has fundamentally shifted. And so I think everything is negotiable.

Daniel Burstein: And I'll just say, I think it's a beautiful shift for the better.

Michelle Burrows: It's funny. I think that we're all looking back at, you know, our commutes each way and our lives prior to the COVID madness and taking hard looks at our lives and saying that's not sustainable anymore.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, and as marketers, you know, this might not be true, unfortunately for every job out there, but as marketers, it's such a good remote working job, work from home job. I mean, my first work from home jobs started in late 2004, and back then there wasn't video conferencing. There wasn't Zoom. It was over a phone. It was I even did a podcast back then. But it was with an actual landline phone, corded phone recording into something called a Marantz and all these things. But I mean, look at it now. This is so easy, Michel, you're in Denver. I think, right?

Michelle Burrows: I am in Denver. I mean, it's funny that you say that my first work “work from home. Work from a flat” was back in 1997 when I moved to Europe. So, I've been. I've been part of and managed virtual teams for years and years and years. And in fact, at Splash Top, my team is all over the place. I have folks in Denver, in New York, in D.C. and in California and in Austin, my goodness. Yeah.

Daniel Burstein: And so, one thing that in my career in the past when I work remotely is the offsite that said, you still do the offsite to bring the team together at certain times to actually have some of that human connection as well.

Michelle Burrows: We do. We do it safely obviously. But yeah, absolutely. I think that's really, really important.

Daniel Burstein:  OK, great. So, you mentioned your time working in Europe, and let's get to that now because we talked about, you know, the things you made like the sticky guy that fell apart in the direct mail campaign or unmade the key decisions you made both as a hiring manager and in your own career.

Now let's talk about the other key thing we do as marketers. We collaborate with people; we learn from other people. So let's jump right to that story. You said it was Dick Shultie, Executive Coach of Services at Optiv Security. He was going to have you work in a different country, just supposed to be a short time thing, but it turned into a much longer stay. So. So tell us about that story. What was that like?

Michelle Burrows: Well, yeah, I actually might get choked up talking about it because Dick actually passed away in the summer, and it broke my heart. So, I worked for Dick twice in my career. And he hired me for a company called MShow, which was later acquired.

And when I started, my role was super undefined, and our chairman of the board had just been to Europe and said, “hey, can I borrow that new person because I need follow up from, you know, meetings I had with British Telecom and Telecom Finland and France Telecom because we were selling a collaboration web conferencing tool and they were going to resell it for us.” And I had zero international experience, did not speak any languages, was just sort of a really a neophyte in terms of my approach and my exposure to different cultures and things like that.

And Dick saw something in me that I didn't see in myself and told our chairman of the board. Absolutely. I'm sure she can do what you need her to do. And within three months of my joining the company, I was actually moving to Europe, and I originally was supposed to be there for six weeks.

It went to three months, and I actually ended up coming back five years later. So that entire experience absolutely changed the trajectory of my career, and I will always remain grateful that he saw something in me that I never saw on myself.

Daniel Burstein:  What did you learn about working in a different country?

Michelle Burrows: Oh my gosh, so many things. I think we, the company and I learned because originally, we put, you know, my “office” was in the UK and the thought was, well, it's English, English. It's all the same. And it so isn’t. And there were so many nuances of the culture and even the UK versus the rest of Europe and how people choose to communicate. I remember being sort of shocked that my contact at British Telecom kept calling me on my cell phone.

And at the time, like back in ‘97-98, you only called people on their cell phone if it was an emergency in the US. And but cell phone usage was prevalent in Europe, so it was just little nuances like that. It was the way of doing business. It was being much more formal, much more aware of the hierarchy in a particular company. So, you know, lots and lots of key learnings that I then can now take forward. As you know, I'm marketing globally now, you just learn that there are nuances no matter what.

Daniel Burstein: I mean, I think it's kind of a key thing we do as marketers hopefully have that empathy and try to learn about different groups of people, even when they're very different from ourselves and how they operate. And that's who our customers can be sometimes, right?

Michelle Burrows: Yeah, absolutely.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. There's something I really like that you said that he saw something in you that you didn't see in yourself. And you know, as we're talking, we were talking about hiring. We're talking negotiations. It is difficult to hire now.  And I think, you know, for any leader listening, it's just that extra effort to look at your own team. And if you're trying to hire for, you know, a higher role in your organization, have you really kind of vetted out your own team and given them an opportunity?

I know for me, like early in my career, is really trying to hire an event person. You know, I had an event person leave, we need a new event person and we're trying to hire externally. And you know, another leader in the organization said, “hey, have you thought about this person in our video department who's doing video editing?” And I really hadn't. And I, you know, didn't think there could be a fit and kind of interviewed her and we tried it out and she was fantastic, you know, one because there was that thing in her that that I didn't notice and see, and I'm glad someone else did and pulled it up.

But two when you hire someone internally, they've got the culture, they understand it. She already knew the event, even though she experienced it as a video person and not as an event manager. And so, you know, it's so fast forwards that that onboarding process so definitely suggest that anyone listening, yeah, we've got those postings, we're trying to pull in someone for this key position, but who you have internally, that not necessarily they know this skill yet, because skills can be learned, right? You can learn how to run an event. You can learn how to, you know, do whatever. But they have that kind of right mix that that they have that opportunity for learning they've got the right fit for the culture.

Michelle Burrows: I love that you just said that actually, I had a similar experience when I was at a company a few years ago. I had a web manager, and he was amazing and then our marketing ops person laughed, and I approached him and I said, Have you ever considered this as a role?

And he said, I don't know. You know, I've always been in web management, and he now is VP of marketing ops. He's had an amazingly successful career. And he pivoted and I saw something in him that, you know, very similar story of. I saw something that he could do really, really well. He built an amazing team. He did amazing work when we worked together, and he continues to do amazing work.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, that's great, you know, even external hiring, there's such a focus, and do you have two years of Google Analytics experience? Well, anyone can learn you, anyone can learn Google apps like that.

Michelle Burrows: Yes, you cannot teach passion. You cannot teach integrity. All of those things that make a remarkable employee, you cannot teach.

Daniel Burstein: Exactly. Yeah. Yes. Well, here's another thing that you can't teach. I love this because I've had to learn this lesson in my career many times. So, you said from the Denise Persson, now she is the CMO of Snowflake. You learned for humility from her. How did you learn humility from Denise?

Michelle Burrows: So, I just I have so much admiration and respect for Denise. So, we worked together at Genesis conferencing. Years and years ago, when I was in Europe and she was promoted again and again and again, and she's led, you know, one of the most successful IPOs ever.

And I think one of the secrets of her success is she is never, ever. Even now, she doesn't think that she knows everything. She has made a remarkable career out of surrounding herself with the best of the best and being humble enough to say, I don't know how to do this, but I'm going to learn.

I'm going to learn from the folks who have come before me. And she's now led multiple companies to successful IPOs, and she's never lost that humility. So, I think that's really key is to make sure that you always come into any role, into any organization and you’re always continuously learning.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, you know, that reminds me when I came into role and I was just really quick to point out, “oh, this is wrong, and that's wrong, and that's bad. And this is bad.” And at one point one the guys just kind of stepped down and said, you know, when you say how very wrong and bad everything and just keep in mind, we worked really hard to get it to this level of bad. It was worse before, and that was just a great lesson of like and staying humble and like, OK, you've got to really remember how much went into that you don't see.

Michelle Burrows: I think it’s easy to be the person that comes in and says, this is wrong. This is wrong. This is wrong. And I always spend a lot of time in my first couple of months just listening and understanding, how did we get from there to here?

Daniel Burstein: Sometimes there's a really good reason they're doing it that you know externally didn't make sense to you. And you're like, “oh, OK, that that makes sense.” So lastly, Mariann McDonagh, she's now the CMO at Work Fusion, and from her, you learned heart centered leadership. So how did you learn Heart Center leadership from her?

Michelle Burrows: Yeah, I just I love Mariann. She and I have known each other now for going on 15 years, and she's hired me twice and we've remained really good friends over the years. But she really taught me that in an organization we are all individuals, folks have family, they have pets, they have everyone is a complex make up of who they are. And when she and I worked together, she understood that bedtime was just sacred to me.

My kids were really, really little when she and I worked together, and she always knew that I would jump online if I had to. But she also understood OK, bath time and bedtime, you know, because my kids were toddlers, they were so little that that time she would never, ever ask me to jump on a call or give me a call or text or whatever.

She would keep those hours for me and my family. She also got to know me as a person and it's part of what I make a real effort to do. Now, I think in this world of Zoom, our interactions with people can become very transactional in nature. What I mean by that is we need to do this. Did you do this? And, you know, check, check, check, check, check instead of saying, how are you, what's going on with your family? How is your kid doing? Did they get into that college they wanted to? Like really getting to know the person. And what's important to them.

And it builds an organization that has so much loyalty. And really? And then back to my original, you know, thing that we talked about is you let people do remarkable work, get to know them as people and they will do remarkable things for you.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I love that. And I think too as leaders, it's also modeling that behavior, right? Like, I worked for field marketing leader of that team once, and there are two things I just always loved about her. One is she really loved Cher and just an everyone on her team knew it and she would just she just love her and just, you know, talk about it just how much she loved Cher and nothing to do with the software company had nothing to do with software, right? But it just seemed like just such a human element to her.

And the other thing was it was an Americas organization, so you know, we'd have off sites, you know, all over the Americas and anytime you'd have it in a city, she always made sure that whoever kind of owned that region.

Taught us something about that city, so it wasn't just, hey, you get into the airport, you go from the cab to the hotel you meet, you get back in the cab and you leave. It was here's something about the city, and let's have a real experience in this city. You know, let's have a real experience. Go to San Diego. You go to that hotel on the bay, whatever that one's called, you know, you go to Montreal. You taste the chocolate and cheese you can't have in America, all that type of stuff.

So this brought kind of that little bit of humanity to the organization where, like you said, it wasn't just transactional. Let's talk about Eloqua or whatever.

Michelle Burrows: Yeah, yeah, I love that.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thanks so much for your time, Michelle. Are there any last thoughts, anything else you want to leave our audience with any inspirational messages for other marketers and entrepreneurs?

Michelle Burrows: Oh, my goodness, I don't know if I have any inspirational bits, but you know I think marketing is one of the hardest jobs in any organization, quite honestly. And here's what I mean by that, and I joke around with some of my fellow marketers is if you were a CFO, no one ever comes into your office and says, I have an idea. Let's present the numbers like this to the financial markets.

But as a marketer, because all of us are marketed to, we all think we're marketers. And so marketing ideas come from all over the place, and everyone feels really strongly about everything from what you wear to at a tradeshow to, you know, how you present your message to your video content, to your regular blog content. So, I would say as a marketer, you have to develop really thick skin and sort of just roll with it and just say, like, this isn't personal, it's about the work and just constantly roll with the feedback that you get because it's pretty constant and all encompassing.

Daniel Burstein:  It's so funny you say that because we had that exact conversation in episode two of the How I made it in marketing podcast. So, if anyone out there is getting the questions of like, why aren't we on Tik Tok and listen to episode two? And we kind of went through that kind of how to answer some of those, though. Well, thank you very much, Michelle. Thanks for taking the time and sharing what you learned in your career.

Michelle Burrows: It's been an absolute delight. Thank you.

Daniel Burstein: And thanks to everyone for listening.

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