Oct 6, 2023
35 min
Episode 43

TOP CMO: Chris Koehler, Box - 'Lead, Learn, Evolve'

Chris Koehler  00:00

We were interviewing external candidates as part of this. And at one point, it sort of dawned on me saying, You know what, I'm a marketer. I want this role, right? I raised my hand in our CFO all of a sudden said, You know what, you're right. It's a great life lesson. If you don't raise your hand, we'll never know.

Ben Kaplan  00:15

This is the podcast where we go around the globe, marketing leaders from the world's biggest brands, fastest growing companies, and most disruptive startups, re ideas packaged a certain way want to spread, they want to be told to someone else's simple, surprising, and significant data to unlocking viral creativity is to make it rapidly scalable. This is TOP CMO with me, Ben Kaplan. today I'm chatting with Chris Koehler, CMO at box box is best known as a cloud based file storage solution for businesses. But as Chris explains, the company has evolved into a content cloud platform that helps other companies collaborate and communicate around their internal content every day. Chris is unique because he doesn't come up through the traditional marketing track his prior role as VP of Customer Success at box, give him a front row seat to how customers really perceive or misunderstand the company. So should marketers be generalists, or specialists? And should you as CMO volunteer for areas outside of your traditional purview? Let's find out with Chris Koehler. Chris, one of the things that's interesting about your background, is that your prior role, you were VP of Customer service or customer success, that's an interesting path that's not every day for a CMO. So how does being on the front lines of making sure customers are getting a great experience? How does that influence you now as a CMO that might be different than the typical CMO? Yeah, thanks, Ben,

Chris Koehler  01:53

first of all, for having me. And it is it's it's pretty much the first question that I get is like, how the heck did that play out? Like, why do you think you're qualified to be a CMO? You know, I've been lucky enough to, you know, work in several companies, including 10 years at Adobe prior to coming to Boggs, where we spent all the time with CMOS, whether that was on the creative side, or, you know, the digital marketing side helping sort of transfermate the transformation around this role, and sort of my specialization, but I happened to run CES and at the SEO organization and others, prior to coming to Xbox. And I think, when I when I joined box, you know, I joined as VP of Customer Success, and I was lucky enough to spend lots of times with customers, right? And I really understood, what are the key challenges? What are we trying to solve? Do they understand our value proposition? Do we understand the use cases? Do we understand? Are they adopting the product, and, you know, when I was lucky enough to move into the CMO role, you sort of take that perspective of being like, super customer driven to inform everything that you're doing? So one of the big things when I when I took over was okay, hey, we have to facilitate the entirety of that customer lifecycle. Right, as marketers, we have a responsibility not just around acquisition, but what how do we help on that onboarding experience? How do we make sure that they are adopting and then ultimately renewing and buying more with us? So I think it was, you know, a unique perspective that a lot of CMOS may not have that. And so that sort of made me uniquely qualified to think about that, you know, facilitating that customer journey.

Ben Kaplan  03:25

interesting to think about, because a CMO activity, a typical CMO might be like, Okay, let's convene a focus group, or let's do something with a small sample to get that sense of experience, so we can better meet those needs. And you had a whole roll that wasn't just the focus group, you were dealing with all of that, and probably got I imagine a deeper perspective that really would influence how you would approach a new challenge, like the CMO role. Yeah, like

Chris Koehler  03:51

100%. You know, I had been running focus groups for a year, almost a year and a half, you know, daily, having conversations with customers. And I think, like, the first thing I think I did when I stepped into the role was, hey, our customers don't understand our value proposition. It's complex, it's convoluted. And the first thing that I did was like, we've got to narrow down, how do we win? Right? Why do customers buy us? How do we how we differentiate ourselves from the competition, and that was the first thing because I had been living it every day. And I've been doing our corporate pitch and our value prop and everything else, and it wasn't working. So that was the first thing was like, Okay, take all this feedback, not just from me, but from the team and the sales organization and like, let's reposition the company around where we think we could win. And it was it was pretty successful. At that point,

Ben Kaplan  04:38

the marketing group that you oversee now, how big is the customer success group? And I should mention, I mean, inbox is a b2b company. I don't know if you have like huge numbers of customer success, folks. How big are the two teams?

Chris Koehler  04:48

Yeah, I mean, we're billion dollar run rate from a revenue perspective and just over, you know, about 2000 plus employees. We brought a pretty lean organization, you know, within marketing, it's 101 Want to hear, you know, 130 people globally? And the CS organization, you know, is pretty similar. Yeah. And marketing, what does the CS organization look like? Well, I mean, and again, just the pure sort of customer success organization is probably similar, right? In that size. And so, again, we use that organization to be our eyes in years, right, from what customers are saying, and then the sales organization is, you know, even larger than, so we actually take a lot of customer input. And we work super closely with both our sales and CS counterparts really to get the feedback of what's working for us in market and what's not. So it's, it's fantastic. I was curious about

Ben Kaplan  05:37

your path. And was it team comes to you and said, you know, we need someone in the CMO role, and you've managed a similar size organization, and you're a smart guy, Chris, clearly, you're gonna take what you know, in terms of management and apply it and maybe a new area? Or did you volunteer and put your hand up and say, Hey, this is like a related thing? And I'd like to explore how did that come about? And how is it perceived that you would have exactly what box needs at this point in time?

Chris Koehler  06:03

Yeah, it's a great question. You know, I'm a CMO at heart, right? I've run I've run, you know, startup marketing, and in a couple places, and my time at Adobe had many different roles. But I think part of it was, I was always talking to marketers and practitioners, right, whether that was CMOS, VP of Digital, doing consulting, best practices, as we were trying to sell, you know, obviously, the the Adobe solutions, so I was always a sort of a marketer at heart. And my last role at Adobe was running to go to market and product marketing organization for the critical enterprise business. So how it all transpired is, I came to box really, based on some relationships and opportunity. And I said, Hey, I can take 10 years of what I've done in Adobe, and apply it to a smaller company, and I can help it re accelerate. And when my predecessor left the organization, we were interviewing, you know, external candidates as part of this. And at one point, it sort of dawned on me saying, you know, what, actually, I'm a marketer, I want this role, right, I raised my hand, I wrote up, you know, a set, you know, my pitch of like, here's why I think I would be great in this role. I understand the customer, we need to get product and positioning run much larger organizations at prior companies like this is I think I'm the right next step for this in our CFO and CEO at the time, all of a sudden said, You know what, you're right, you are what we need as part of this. And I was given the opportunity four plus years ago, and haven't looked back since

Ben Kaplan  07:30

an interesting story to say sometimes you just need to raise your hand, like maybe people hadn't thought of you in a certain way. And if you sort of suggest something, they're actually like, you're absolutely right. Why didn't we think of this sooner? Like, great idea, Chris, let's just pick Chris, right? Like, sometimes you have to do that. Just because people aren't focused on it. You might say, Oh, it's like, obvious, it should be obvious to them. Like, if they're not asking, then maybe they're just looking for something else right now. But it might not be it might be obvious, but just gotta point it out.

Chris Koehler  07:57

Yeah. I mean, I think it's a great life lesson like, you know, at some point, if you don't raise your hand, we'll never know. Right. And as leaders, we're, you know, as we're thinking about how do we give our teams opportunity for growth and others, like, you may not know, their background at the same level, and it may not be obvious, because they might be in some role, and you're like, Oh, they're, they're a pure product marketer. And I don't know that they could do demand gen. But you know, that might have been like, well, two roles ago actually ran a small demand gen team, and it was like, oh, yeah, I didn't really thought about that. But if you've never raise your hand, you're never going to get the opportunity as part of that. So I think it's, you know, I often tell my team, be bold, and raise your hand for things. And you'll be surprised, like, sometimes you'll get it, and it can be life changing. And even

Ben Kaplan  08:41

if you don't, maybe you'll get the feedback and says, You know what, they could have said, Chris, you got nine out of the 10 things we need? Can you work on this 10 thing? Or what could you do? So you might get an opportunity that way? Or you might get some feedback from someone else that just says like, I think that's a great point. I think you're just missing this experience. And then you might go like, Okay, let me go grab that experience real fast. And I'm gonna position myself for this later. So there's lots of good outcomes that can come of that by raising your hand.

Chris Koehler  09:06

Yeah, I mean, you're gonna get feedback one way or the other. And in some cases, that may be like, hey, maybe not for this role. But now you know, you know, keep you in mind and maybe something else comes up where they're like, alright, let's give this person an opportunity that maybe naturally they weren't the person we're thinking about, but you've raised your hand, you've said, hey, I want to do more, I think I can do more. Here's my experience. Give me the opportunity. And you'll be surprised like those opportunities pop up, whether was the existing thing or maybe something in the future? You've been in

Ben Kaplan  09:34

the CMO role, how does it give you a different appreciation for your peers? Are you a better partner and how to work with them because you have a broader experience set to draw upon? I think

Chris Koehler  09:47

1% Right, because you've you've sat in their shoes, whether that's ces or I've been in parts of sales organizations, organizations and others, and you know my partner in crime on the sales side, our CRO, when we kind of first Started both at the same time. And we realized that the relationship between sales and marketing is so important in b2b, right, we have to be aligned, you know, we've got to, you know, together drive the strategy. And I think both of us and he had actually run a marketing organization prior to coming to box. So there was like, a shared appreciation together of like, Hey, we got to be aligned around this. And anytime I hear, you know, it's natural marketers, like, oh, the sales teams and doing this or whatever it's like, timeout, they have really hard jobs, they have a very clear score, you know, scorecard. It's the, you know, it is very public. And we're asking them to do a lot of things. So have some appreciation for what they're going through, right? And empathy of the challenges they've got. And then vice versa, you know, Mark, our CFO will be like, Listen, you got to understand everything that's going on in that organization, and what they're trying to do and the pressure they've got on them. So I do think having that appreciation of being in a different role, has helped me become a better marketer, and convey that down to my team as well.

Ben Kaplan  11:05

One of the big things I've learned from hiring hundreds of team members is the power of specific examples. Lots of people can talk generally about work they did. But fewer can give you the details, play by play of what worked, what didn't, how they problem solve, and why. If a candidate can be really specific, that's not only a good indicator that they can actually do what they say they can do. But it shows that they pay attention to details and can recall details that matter. That's an important skill. How do you look at hiring people for your teams? Given that you're someone that you know, raise your hand and said, I'm what you're looking for? Maybe my background isn't exactly what you'd expect. But that's okay. Are you open minded about hires on your team? Do you look for generalists that are just smart people that are going to pick things up? Do you look for specialists that are really really focused that kind of fill out the skill sets for your team? How do you think about hiring given your own background?

Chris Koehler  12:11

Yeah, that's, it's, uh, I think the world needs both generalists and specialists, right. And I'm a generalist at heart. And that's deliberate. I've been seeking out opportunities to grow and learn. And I just think, my core personality, I'm a generalist, but there are a lot of really incredible specialists. So when I, when I think about sort of rounding out Leadership Teams and Roles, and others actually think you need a little bit of both, right, there might be a certain role at this time, we really need some specialization that's like that is their core competency. They're really, really good at it. And so we want to hire or promote from within of those people that have that core competency. But I do think there is value in having generalists. I just hired someone that ran to manage that for me. But he had also been in kind of a CMO like role at a small company, right? So he had to deal with with product marketing and brand and makes him a generalist. But a specialization is really on demand gen. So it's kind of the best of both worlds. So I do think it's, you know, the world needs both. I think it's just a matter of like, for the specific time and, you know, what the role? Can I get away with a general so they're really smart? Will they'll figure it out? You know, we'll help them and on that front? Or do we need someone who's like super deep on this topic, given where we are at this moment. So I kind of think about it as both. But you need to kind of a combination, because I think that works best

Ben Kaplan  13:30

when we've done our own hiring. And we're hiring more generalists that we think can fill them more specialized need, but they don't necessarily have like the deep background in it. I don't know if this works for you. But we we often think about two things. One is, is there evidence that they've picked up something that they didn't necessarily know it can be a different topic, right, but they've just like shown, they can learn how to learn and get on board quickly. And that's like a little bit more of a very practical matter. And then the more nuanced thing that we look for, and and tell me if you look for this, too, is, is there a passion for the area? Because we know that if they seem genuinely interested, we can ask questions that can make up for a lot, right? If you just want to immerse yourself versus you're, you know, you're getting a homework assignment, like, yeah, I can learn it, but it's not my product. So I don't know if you look for that. But that's when we look for that kind of generalist hire in a specialized area, we want to see those two things, you can learn how to learn, and you've got a passion or an interest in the area, you're gonna go.

Chris Koehler  14:26

Yeah, totally. And when we're interviewing, like, one of my, my techniques, as part of that, is I asked them, How do you learn, right? And it gives you the insight into, you know, it's like, oh, well, you know, if it's not an answer that's deep, and it's as varied, right, they're like, Well, I asked tons of questions, and I've done this and I worked on this and you're like, Okay, this is an individual, you kind of know, that is going to figure stuff out, and they've already gone deep and they've prepped for the interview and you kind of can tell, versus others that say they want to do it and you ask them and they're like well You know, you're like, alright, they're not probably the right fit for us. So we're I'm the same way. It's like, ask how they learn, give examples, and you'll kind of get a sense of like, whether they're going to be passionate about the topic, and whether they're going to be self driven to figure it out on their own, like, we have a patent we have, we have something in our house, you're basically it's like continuous learning, like we're always learning. And that's something I'm trying to instill with my kids, where it's just like, you got to keep growing and learning. And that's, you know, individuals that are generalists have to do that specialist too. But you can rely on your experience. If you're a generalist, you got to learn just continuously.

Ben Kaplan  15:36

And actually, one of our mantras at top is make it better. And another one is learn at warp speed. The colloquial way to say all of this that sometimes said for us is if it ain't broke, optimize it. So how do you continually like learn and get better is one of our things another? I mentioned, Warren, the hiring topic. Here's another question for you how you think about this, sometimes, we sometimes struggle which way we want to go on this issue. I'm curious how you do, looking at what we would commit drivers versus managers, meaning there's people who can drive like insights, things that you hadn't thought of that push things forward. There's other people who aren't going to necessarily find those patterns that maybe no one else saw. But they're going to be very competent managers of teams. And sometimes we wonder, like, at the top and a department or a unit or a division, do you want a driver? Who's going to drive things forward? Or do you just want a manager? And how do those play together? I don't know, if you think about those in certain key roles in your marketing organization,

Chris Koehler  16:36

you know, we we have both, right, where you've got, you've got examples of like, hey, if I go say, I need you to go execute on XY and Z, you know, they're just, they're gonna run with it. And they're gonna figure it out, and you don't have to worry about it. And then there are other people that have a natural tendency, and we sort of, they gravitate towards the hardest problems. And they, they're naturally curious around it. And those are the individuals that are absolutely incredible to have in your organization, because they'll come to you, you know, and say, Hey, I've been thinking about like something he said last week around this problem, and I started digging into it, and hey, I've got some thoughts. Yeah. I'm like, Oh, my gosh, like, yes, yeah. Wonder percent. Yeah, let's go, let's go deep on this, because, you know, it's in may not even be in their area, right, where they're just like, I've kind of dug into it. And I've got some thoughts, and I did do some analysis, and you're like, that is a driver, that is someone that when you think about, Okay, I've got a hairy problem that we've got to go solve, you know, the people in your organization, whether they're at the top of that list, like they're the people that are running towards the fire, to put it out and to help you. It is those those are invaluable. And naturally, those are the people that I look towards where I'm like, who I want to give more responsibility to, I need the drivers, because I know that they're going to they're going to make us better, more responsibility just means they're just going to make that organization that much better.

Ben Kaplan  17:59

Final question for you is, what do you think is more important? Is it skill expertise? Or knowledge? Or is it culture fit? You know, being a team player within the context of the organization? Like Will you hire someone who's outstanding in the skill set, but you have questions about whether they're a culture fit in or team player? Do you just give them a pass on that? Or hope they learn or trust your culture to help them fit in? Or do you take someone who's on the interview, they weren't the A on the skill set that maybe were like a bee, but they seem like a great culture fit. How do you you got to candidates? You got to decide you got to pick, you know, you got one spot? Who do you pick?

Chris Koehler  18:37

Yeah, I mean, you hope you have both. But in that situation, I picked the culture fit versus the in part of it is the organization. Right? A box has, I would I would argue one of the best cultures I've ever been part of, and that permeates from the top. And in our leadership, I kind of joke that people that don't fit within our culture of being collaborative and working together, if you're not that type of person, and you might be a brilliant jerk, you know, some people I could I could name some other things. It's almost like organ rejection. They don't fit here. And so it is a it is a non starter. If we don't believe that someone is the right fit here. We won't hire and you know, that that comes that permeates the organization. We generally I wake up every day love working that people were the people I work with. And we have we have spent a lot of effort and time to really cultivate a culture that is collaborative, and we don't want to change that. So very few exceptions ever happened in New York, which is pretty awesome. If you enjoy

Ben Kaplan  19:39

this show, you'll love top CEO. Top CEO is a business school case study telling the story behind the story and what you can learn from it from those who have faced the fire and come out the other side.


That was the challenge the team was faced 25% of it was gone. I found myself $282,000 in debt, how would you navigate through these trials and transform them into opportunities for growth and success? How

Ben Kaplan  20:06

do you build back up the business and get out


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Ben Kaplan  20:26

So the ticket back to box and your message and your customers, you mentioned that maybe sometimes it's difficult for people to understand your value proposition, meaning box is a place, you know, at a very basic sense, you can store a lot of files there and keep them safe and secure. What is the challenge you're trying to do as box has more offerings, more complex solutions? Other things? What is the message you're trying to get out? And what is the blockers to people understanding that? Yeah,

Chris Koehler  20:53

I mean, I think, you know, the thing that we're we're looking at is that we have built a category around file storage, Enterprise File, sync and share. And anytime you build a category, it's really hard from a, from a perception to break out of that. And you're much bigger than just, you know, a place to store files. And as we've done product innovation over the last, you know, five plus years, we've expanded out and we've, we talked about this notion of a content, a content cloud. And what we're seeing is this notion of structured versus unstructured data, for a very long time, you've got databases with structured data, snowflake is, you know, just continues to grow like crazy. But the majority of your content is really unstructured. It's all your PowerPoint, your files. I mean, think about it's unstructured, it's it doesn't have, you know, it's not, you can't define it in a schema. And so we're trying to convince the world that with security and AI, having having a strategy around your content is really important. And so that's starting to resonate with customers, which, you know, it's taken us a while to get there. But we do have some pretty cool head or tail winds with AI and security that we we believe, is a differentiator for us.

Ben Kaplan  22:03

And how do you, then it seems like everyone and their brother wants to do something with AI, right? Or tell some kind of story. And, and, and there can be like, a lot of levels, right? There's the obvious companies doing like deep AI work. And there's companies that are just, yeah, we can plug into the chat GPT real quick and use the API and spit it out. And we'll give you a suggestion. And it's not really an answer. But how do you in a space where you probably have a lot of customers who they themselves are trying to figure out what they're doing with AI? How do you make that meaningful, as opposed to just like a couple of letters that everyone does that tries to make you sound more advanced?

Chris Koehler  22:37

Yeah, I mean, it is quite funny, we, one you got to get in show, right, they gotta have the tangible use cases around where you actually can drive value. And like I said, before, 90 plus percent of an enterprise has unstructured content, and these large language models work great on unstructured, you know, content that you could never really get the value out of it prior to last fall in any meaningful way. And so we're trying to, you know, both, you know, show the world that, you know, box has 100 plus 1000 customers, you got tons of content in our system, why don't you take advantage of AI, because it's already seeing that, and oh, by the way, everyone is super paranoid around security and governance. And, you know, I don't want my content to go outside of, you know, my organization, I don't want people to have access to files that they shouldn't, you know, you shouldn't be able to use, you know, AI and ask what the salary of the, you know, your peer is any of those things. So, how do you how do you control all of that, in a way with your existing content, strategy, and ultimately provide value to our customers? So, you know, we think we have a unique proposition around that. But it's hard, given all the noise in the market right now to know to tell that story. And the

Ben Kaplan  23:55

other thing that I know, that you've been a proponent of, and maybe this comes from being on the customer success side, too, is this idea of sort of organizational efficiency, department efficiency, doing more with less. So how has that impacted you recently, if that's part of your skill set, it's a good skill set to have when you're in macro economic uncertain times, companies doing belt tightening, maybe just adding preventative belt tightening, right, like not sure what we're in exactly like some feeling more than others. But what how do you do more with less? Yeah,

Chris Koehler  24:28

I mean, I think we were, in hindsight, we were, I would say, we were on the forefront of profitable growth. You know, we've been on this journey, really, three or four years now, where the market is shifted, where it wasn't growth at all costs is really profitable growth. And, you know, there's a long back channel why that happens, you know, with some activist investors, but it's made us a much stronger organization where, you know, as a, as a CMO, I've had to really focus on what are the things that matter, because we did have to go through something drastic as an organization, drastic optimizations to get to get to profitability, and it's made us a much stronger organization. So it ultimately, at the end of the day, what really moves the needle ROI, we're super data driven, we test and learn everything that we do. And we, there's no waste in our system anymore. And you know, when you when you're forced to do that, over a period of years, you become very sort of pragmatic around, you know, how do you how do you drive the business, and you measure everything, and you kind of know, so it's in it's helped us in this environment where there's uncertainty, because we kind of know, if we invest here, we're going to get why. And I think a lot of my peers over the last probably six to nine months, they hear this quite a bit, like, do more with less, that's scary, but it'll make them stronger, right? And you'll find out very quickly, the things that you've always done that you thought worked, and you stopped doing it, then all of a sudden, you're like, oh, maybe that didn't have as big of an impact as we thought it did. And so it you know, I think being super data driven and test everything is the is the mantra that that we have here a box.

Ben Kaplan  26:09

What's funny is sometimes certain circumstances force you into, like, do without something that he thought was essential, and then you do without and you're like, Oh, I guess I guess that wasn't as essential as we thought, you know. So sometimes you just need if you can do it in like, a low impact way, right? Not something that you rely on for 20% of your sales. But if it's something else that sometimes belt tightening is an opportunity to just do without for a little bit, you got to pick it up anyway. And then you learn if you really need it, or if people are creative and find another way.

Chris Koehler  26:39

Yeah. And what we'll find is there's there's usually an alternative, it may not be 8020 rule, like we did it this way, it was fairly expensive, can we find a way to do this at a much, you know, lower cost, it might be a little bit more effort around that. But like, ultimately, the ROI is way higher. And so, like you said, sometimes the circumstances force you to do it. But you know, if you can learn from it, I think you'd become a better marketer, you know, over time.

Ben Kaplan  27:05

And I feel like to one of the things we're taught in business, that if you're smart, if you're a good person in business, you're good at solving problems, right? Like you're good at, okay, I got a problem, I'm gonna have a solution. I'm actually reminded of a story like you think some of the great problem solvers of our time, I've read a bunch about before as Thomas Edison, and what Thomas Edison would do, obviously knows a prolific inventor, but he actually mostly was not a problem solver. He was actually a solutions optimizer, because there was usually someone on some of his most prolific adventures that did a version first. Just they didn't do it in a way that was optimal yet. So he sort of took that optimized it with his team, and often became famous for the invention, even though he didn't really invent it himself. So sometimes, by belt tightening tough times is how do we optimize solutions? And that's different than outright solving a problem?

Chris Koehler  27:59

Yeah. And I think, you know, we talked to earlier about just being a generalist. And I think this notion of like, being a polymath and learning and taking different perspectives, we often take a step back, and we're like, Okay, we've been doing this for the last few years. What else? Like how could we do this differently? Like, how could we try to figure out let's, you know, we've optimized it for last year, like, what would what would be a different approach? Right, and opening up that, that, that opportunity for the teams to be like? Well, I've got an idea that I've been thinking about, you know, around this, and I'm constantly shocked at like, when we open it up to the broader organization to come with ideas around how to solve or optimizing things. I'm, I'm incredibly impressed that great ideas come from all over the place. We don't have all the answers. And some of the best ideas have come from groups like someone in engineering, right said hey, what if we thought about this? It's like, oh, my gosh, that's a great idea. And we're gonna go run with that. So I think it is it is that openness to rethink how we're doing everything is is essential when budgets get tight.

Ben Kaplan  29:11

I mean, memorandum, this word drawn up as a general system. Famed American inventor Thomas Edison is known for quote, unquote, inventing the light bulb. But did he really, people had been making wires incandescent, since 1761, and plenty of other inventors have demonstrated and even patented various versions of incandescent lights. Edison's focus was not so much inventing, but rather perfecting, finding ways to make things better, or cheaper, or both. Edison did not look for problems in need of solutions. He looked for solutions in need of modification. So does your marketing approach need brand new solutions, or does it just need perfecting B? The answer to that question might shift how you approach your overall marketing plan.

Ben Kaplan  30:09

Final thing I want to just ask you is, what is your advice for the next generation of marketers coming up, you know, it's marketing is more probably like left brain and right brain than ever before, none of us is quite sure, maybe a few people are, but I'm not at least how generative AI will impact everything, and we'll just charge up to become your CMO, Cressy, CMOs won't be needed, you've maybe got to come up with a marketing plan. I say that sort of half jokingly, but we're in an interesting time. If you're someone, you know, coming up and a future CMO, or you're aspiring to that role, what is your advice? Now? What should be used to be doing? If you're like, let's say you're five years away from from landing that role?

Chris Koehler  30:51

Yeah, I mean, I think there's a couple of things. One, and we talked about this continuously learn, right, this is a, I think the CMO role is is has the most sort of transformation, I think, I think this is going to change us, right? Inevitably, over the next five years, like the role that we have today is gonna be very different five years, what that's gonna look like, I don't know. But keep learning, right? Trying to figure it out, dig in, ask lots of questions to when you get into when you get into these senior level, you know, C level roles, have a network, because it's lonely at the top sometimes where you don't have all the answers. And if you've got a great network and start now, to build pure sets, ask lots of questions. Because there's often times where I'll ping one of my CMO friends, and hey, I'm really struggling with this, like, what are you guys doing? What's different, what's working. And it's amazing how I get ideas from my peers. But I worked on that sort of pure set over years and years, right to cultivate that, which is critically important. And then I think the other thing is, think about it as a GM, not as a marketer, because I think, ultimately, you know, the role of marketing is to ultimately trying to grow the business, right? We're not trying to, you know, build pipeline, or what, you know, position the product, ultimately, we're trying to grow the business as leaders. And so if you can adopt that mindset of everything that you do, is this actually going to help us grow the business, I think you'll be much better set up to be a CMO in the future.

Ben Kaplan  32:23

And I think too, if you have that mindset, it usually means you're closer to revenue. And if you're closer to revenue for a company, for most companies, you're closer to the fuel of the company, the lifeline of the company, that's pretty good for your career. Also, if you can be more adjacent to revenue and more of a driver of revenue, no matter what role you're in. Yeah, and I think sometimes

Chris Koehler  32:47

as marketers, we have lots of jargon that we do and when you get in front of executives need to think about how do I translate marketing speak into? How am I growing and driving the business. And you'll be set up in a much better way versus, you know, hey, spouting off all the acronyms that we know and love every day. But again, it shows you're a driver of the business, you're not just a marketer, who is, you know, trying to explain the tactics that they're doing.

Ben Kaplan  33:14

According to Box CMO, Chris Koehler, having a richer set of experiences from all aspects of companies business only makes you a better marketer. When hiring others, seek balance on your team, but maybe pass on the brilliant jerk, combine generalists and specialists, managers and drivers. But if someone is thinking about problems that you didn't even ask to be solved, then encourage and nurture them. Whatever you do, don't just be a purveyor of marketing tactics. Seek to communicate how ultimately everything you're doing, helps grow the business, and build your network of peers who can offer advice, actually, yours before you need it. Finally, don't be afraid to raise your hand for a needed task, challenging problem, or even an entirely new role. People might just learn to see you in a different light and the feedback you'll get is always invaluable. For TOP CMO. I'm Ben Kaplan.


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