You can watch or listen to the podcast here and we’ve covered some highlights of their discussion below.
How important is the team?
“It’s all about the people. And it’s interesting, in technology we spend a lot of time talking about the product or the direction of the industry, but really the secret to success is the people, both the quality and the skills, as well as the culture and mindsets. And I’ve seen this countless times over my career.
“What I’ve found over the years, frankly, is the quality team makes issues kind of go away. And so, my focus, certainly over the last many years of my career, has been on getting the right group of folks together and then ensuring they have the right culture and the right mindsets and that they’re in an environment where they can be successful. And I find that if you do that, a lot of the other issues sort of just melt away.”
What is required to build a data-oriented culture?
“On the one hand, usually when you talk about people and teams, you also then talk about autonomy and people being empowered to make decisions, which is great. But if you don’t have a foundational level of data that you’re operating from, then you can end up with people going in multiple different directions. And sometimes that can be sub-optimized.
“And so, it’s really the combination of a solid data foundation and a team that can be successful. And you as an organization need to come up with a definition of what is foundational. What are the key data points, attributes, or elements that you need? And then you need to ensure that you’ve figured out how you’re going to collect, maintain, and interpret that data. What’s that whole process? What’s the governance system around the data? And once you have that as a foundation level, then you’ve created the opportunity for teams to work from a common set of data, looking at a common picture, and then going and using their skills and personal attributes to go be successful.”
What would you do differently now if you joined a startup?
“Business goes through fads. But usually at the end of those fads, it gets down to core business fundamentals. Is the company you’re creating profitable? Is revenue growing? And if it’s not profitable, is it on a path to profitability?
“And early times in fads around companies, the focus is elsewhere. Maybe in the past it was how many:
“I don’t call them false metrics, but other metrics that don’t correlate to profit and revenue.
“But as the fad goes through a bit of an arc, eventually it gets to the point where, okay, this is great, but are you profitable? And if not, what’s your path to profitability and what’s the likelihood that you’re going to get there? And then what is your revenue projection?
“And so, it was earlier in my career, like everybody else, I sort of drove a team to go chase whatever the fad at the moment was, only to find out eventually it came down to the dollars and cents. And that’s something that in retrospect, I would have handled a few situations differently earlier in my career. But that’s the benefit of hindsight and having some gray hair.”