Mar 22, 2024
34 min
Episode 62

TOP CMO: Khalid El Khatib, Stack Overflow- 'Tech Leadership Transformed'

Khalid El Khatib  00:00

things have never happened as quickly before, and they haven't been so as unpredictable as they are today. And the best way in my opinion to navigate both of those things was to talk to peers.

Ben Kaplan  00:07

This is the podcast where we go around the globe to interview marketing leaders from the world's biggest brands, fastest growing companies, and most disruptive startups by telephone. This is TOP CMO with me, Ben Kaplan. Today, I'm chatting with Khalid El Khatib, former CMO of Stack Overflow, a question answered community for programmers and developers used by companies like Microsoft, Bloomberg and Expensify. To streamline productivity and protect institutional knowledge. Khalid led the marketing team at Stack Overflow through several transformations, including leadership changes, business realignments, and a $1.8 billion acquisition. So how do you foster innovation within your marketing team? And what are the most critical skills needed for marketing leadership today? Let's find out with Khalid El Khatib Khalid we've chatted before, do you have an interesting definition of a CMOS role, which is one of the things we do on the show over time as we really define what a CMO does. Your definition is interesting, because you talk about a CMO being a great partner to a lot of other leaders in the organization. What do you mean by that? And what type of leaders are you partnering with?

Khalid El Khatib  01:26

Sure, yeah, well, thanks for having me. And I think these days, the problems that marketing is solving for are really complex, because the world is getting not only more complex, but but the sort of cycle of innovation of change is coming more quickly than ever. We certainly saw that through the pandemic, we're seeing that through the macro economic factors that we're all up against. And I think that in order for marketing to have an impact on a company's bottom line, and to move the company forward, when it comes to their goals, they have to partner across multiple dimensions. So historically, you know, a sale, CMOs closest partner was a CRM, Chief Revenue Officer or maybe a CPO, Chief Product Officer. Today, there are all sorts of complexities and nuances when it comes to attrition and retention, or internal communication challenges within a company. And so marketing has to play a role in partnering with the chief people officer. The same thing can be said when it comes to attribution, CAC and a company's profitability, which everyone is really focused on right now. And so the CML is to partner more closely than ever with the CFO. And so I think that really that cross functional partnership, and ensuring that anyone on the leadership team has a direct line to the CMO and views them as a trusted partner is more critical than ever, your role

Ben Kaplan  02:41

is interesting. And you've been at Stack Overflow for I think over five years now, Stack Overflow has gone through a lot of different changes. And for people who don't know, correct me if I'm wrong, I'm simplifying it too much. It's just like a site to come to get all sorts of questions answered, where you could be any level of technical expertise, and there's other people who might be able to answer those questions. It's become a platform. And also, beyond that, you know, you've had a Series II fundraise, you were acquired in what was reported as $1.8 billion deal. All these changes is happens. And actually, I think there was a few different CEOs that were in place during that time to how has your role changed over those five years when you were the top marketing person as a vice president, but it's evolved over that time?

Khalid El Khatib  03:24

That's right with regard to Stack Overflow. So the very popular website, where anyone of any skill level can access technical information or questions and answers for free, one of the most popular websites in the world that's literally been accessed billions of times since our inception in 2008. Alongside the public platform, we have three products paid products, we have Stack Overflow for teams, which is our newest product, but our most our largest product now. And that's a private knowledge management and productivity software SAS product, we then have an advertising product both for for software companies and for for folks who are hiring developers and employer brand new product. So my role has really grown alongside the company. When I started five years ago, it's my five year anniversary this month, the marketing team was six or seven people the budget was between one and 2 million. Today, the marketing team is upwards of 30 people and our budget is between 10 and 15 million. And so you know, obviously with greater power comes greater responsibility.

Ben Kaplan  04:25

I like the Spider Man quote, well played, well done. Yes. Okay. So

Khalid El Khatib  04:28

we're now responsible for generating a significant portion of the demand for the company. We're a demand oriented marketing team. But to your point, we've also led the company through significant change not only the launch of several products and product evolutions over time, but three leadership transitions. So I was here for all three of those hired by our CEO and founder at the time, there was an interim leader in between our current CEO shop who came on about three and a half years ago. And then as you mentioned, a series D fundraise and an acquisition in August of 2021. For $1.8 billion. And then, of course, the pandemic, this crazy cycle that we're in now, you know, the the acceleration of generative AI. So all sorts of exciting changes, and the marketing team has grown and evolved through them. I

Ben Kaplan  05:15

mean, you were a marketing leader at the beginning, you just had a smaller team smaller budgets. You're a marketing leader, now, who bigger team bigger budgets. And I think if you track your titles in the organization, it goes from Vice President, senior vice president to CMO. Are you doing the same sorts of things just elevated? Or does the CMO role take on a different meeting now with responsibilities to the board to other things that you didn't? He had? Maybe some of it, he didn't have all of it? How are things changed? Yeah, sure. It's

Khalid El Khatib  05:43

a good question. My remit has certainly changed. And I think that that is because the business is more complex than it was five years ago, the expectations are higher, sort of given the size and scale of us today. And so I think a couple of things. First of all, I have to rely on my direct reports and my senior leaders more than I ever had before, I really have to defer to their expertise, I have to trust them. And I'm very fortunate to have a great leadership team under me, and seeing your tenure folks, people who have built things before who have navigated many of these challenges, and to sort of, you know, listen to their recommendations and go with the approach that they recommend. So that's really critical. And just to

Ben Kaplan  06:21

interrupt that first part about relying more on your team, because you can't be in the weeds quite as much. What is an example of that mean? Is it before like, customer acquisition cost? You were tracking it real closely. And you were suggesting things and tweaking things yourself with the team? And now someone else doing that? And you just want to know the end result? Is that an example? Or do you mean something differently?

Khalid El Khatib  06:40

The clearest example here is 543 years ago, if we were to RFP, a new agency, whether it was a PR agency, or our paid media agency, I would be part of the full RFP process, I would say, Okay, here's a short list of agencies, I think we should go to let me sit in an all of the meetings. And you know, certainly have a seat at the table when it comes to making the final decision, I'll probably, you know, be 70% of the final decision. Today, I defer to my senior leaders on who's part of that shortlist day, we'll narrow down down to two or three finalists. And then I'll either be in those final conversations and help them make a decision or if they feel very strongly that they found the right partner, I will defer to their expertise. And I will sign the contract. Because I you know, at one don't have the time to make all these decisions. And to these days, I'm a bit of a, you know, an inch deep and a mile wide. I don't know, you know, what exactly we need relative to our investment and being versus Google ads, for example, or how we can evolve our CAC on that dimension, but my demand gen meter knows it inside and out.

Ben Kaplan  07:44

Okay, so that's one way. And then you were getting to the second way that things have sort of changed and evolved. Yeah, the

Khalid El Khatib  07:49

second way is that the company has grown up. And so so for example, five years ago, we didn't have an analyst relations program, our press presence was really limited to technical publications, the sort of top tier media outlets for us were TechCrunch, or the verge, as opposed to the New York Times reading information or The Wall Street Journal or the ft. And we were we were bowled into our board, to a bench of VCs, like many sort of series, A through the company, companies. And so today, the stakes are higher across multiple dimensions. You know, we've, we have to have conversations constantly with analyst at Forrester and Gartner relative to changes that are happening in the world and the role that we have to play in them. The Press conversations that we have are more complex. They are not limited to technical publications. And they often touch on multiple things, whether it's the company's finances, leadership transitions, or the rise of generative AI, and then our parent company, we're a wholly owned subsidiary, a process has very high expectations of the work that we do across multiple dimensions. And so one example of my remit that I didn't have five years ago, is ESG. So I have to help develop and articulate our sustainability strategy, in partnership with process and their expectations of us. And along the same lines, have to be able to articulate CAC and how we're moving the needle when it comes to those efforts. Because, you know, it's part of our responsibility to our parent company,

Ben Kaplan  09:20

as you do all of this. What is your day or week look like? Like, where do you spend the bulk of your time? Or maybe it's not a lot of time, but it's what you're thinking about? What's what you're driving? What wall is your ladder up against?

Khalid El Khatib  09:34

Yeah, it's it's a great question. I think like every company, you know, the core challenge for me, especially, we're a fully remote company, we just in fact, gave up our offices, which people were not using very much. And so the greatest challenge is how to get work done when you have a very intensive meeting culture. So it's been a lot of time on Zoom calls, but I don't think any of them are wasteful. So I you know, I work very closely with my team to do Meeting audits to ensure that the meetings are productive, that they serve a purpose. And it's really important to me that I build relationships, my team, to people who are reporting it to me directly, and then the people who report into my direct so that I know what's going on and what everyone's working on. And so the way that I sort of structure my week and spend my time is I tried to do the bulk of my meetings in the middle of the week and preserve some part of Mondays and Fridays for doing project based work, a lot of writing and editing. And then I work usually two or three hours every single Sunday, in terms of the actual work that I'm doing, we're pretty fortunate, in my opinion, to have a very sound approach to our strategic priorities and goals for the company. And so we do have a few Northstars that we're constantly chasing, that we wrote every year. So again, fully remote company, but we get together as a full company, for an in person meet up at the start of every fiscal year for us, we then align around our key part of strategic priorities there. And for me a really excellent prioritization exercise when someone invites me into a meeting, or to work on an initiative to say, hey, does this ladder up to what the company is focused on? And I use that as a forcing function to really edit my work week in week out?

Ben Kaplan  11:10

It's interesting, actually, your schedule, which maybe differently in sort of the inverse of some folks, I'm curious why and if that's part of your evolving role, because you talked about, you know, your meetings in the middle of the week, Monday and your Friday for project type work that you need to advance version of that, that I sometimes hear and maybe this because you're delegating more to other people is like, Okay, I need the Monday is all my meetings, right? Because I've got to like set what's happening this week, make sure everyone knows kind of marching orders. And Friday is more meetings. It's like, how do we do there in the week? Are there KPIs, other measurements, stuff like that, in the middle of the week is more of the project or so just from a I'm just interested for any other CMOS listening or marketing folks, I've just tried to optimize their output productivity, while not burning themselves out and having some some semblance of balance? Why did you do it that way? Yeah, I think

Khalid El Khatib  12:00

for a couple of reasons. So one for me personally, but for anyone who has to be part of a Monday morning meeting that can be brutal. That the the other sort of piece of that is that the work doesn't start happening on the weekends, especially when you have a massive platform like we do with a very active community. So oftentimes on Monday, there are things that I need to react to that happened over the weekend, emails that I've received first thing on Monday from Europe, for example. And so it's pretty important to me to have that sort of Monday time to get into the week to get myself in the right mindset. On the Friday thing, I hear you with regard to sort of seeing the week lag and I'm certainly not a no meetings on Friday person. But I do think that a lot of things pile up by the end of the week when it comes to project work and things that you need focused time on. And I also think that we all have this really natural inclination to sign off at a reasonable hour on Fridays, to you know, reflect on how the week went. And so I sort of appreciate that time block and Friday afternoon to have more focused on.

Tom Cain  13:01

Okay, so here's what I'm thinking. It's a Western with a sci fi twist. But there's also a film noir plot running in the background. And dinosaurs, because why not right? Take the dinosaurs down a little bit. Okay, no dinosaurs. But a little bit of romance is always welcome.

Tom Cain  13:37

And zombie BS? Yeah, we have to throw some zombies in there. Your vision, our craft, can listen to the first draft again, back to the show.

Ben Kaplan  13:53

So how many team members is Stack Overflow? Now? About 500? About 500. Talking about remote work, there's been a bit of a discussion of first you had kind of like I'd say the finance folks saying like, Hey, we're not really into a remote works of art, you got to come back, we want you in the office. And finance is also a highly regulated industry. So there's more like, No, you cannot be working from this country on a beach, accessing our services. There's a bit of that, but that sort of came and then it kind of came back into some of the big tech right saying, No, we need you back in the office. Certainly there's certain folks like Elon Musk are like very, very, very vocal about it. And people can polarize people. But there's other folks to sort of saying that, how has that been for a 500? person company? You're a unicorn multibillion dollar to go there. You're not quite there just startup anymore. That's like, Hey, we're just going to make it work. How has that been? Can it work? What is your insights on that for other people, and other maybe CMOS listening who have influenced and so are we going to demand in person or not? And what do you take away from that or can offer?

Khalid El Khatib  14:53

Yeah, it's a good question. And I spent a lot of time talking and thinking about this, and I, you know, I don't think there's any right or wrong I think the people who swing to one side of the pendulum are often being like incredibly hyperbolic, I think a couple of things. One we have, we have a rich history of being, if not remote, first remote friendly. So prior to the pandemic, I spent so much or like at the beginning of the pandemic has spent so much time doing press and webinars and things like that, because we were about 60% remote. And so we had some good DNA around what it meant to be remote for how to equip people how to scale or VPN from a technical perspective. And so there is this sort of muscle memory built into people of a remote first world. That said, I think remote only works if you have built in milestones, and initiatives in place where people can get to know people in person. So for us that looks like an in person company meet up or the full company comes together once a year, for the go to market team for the sales team, for example, they get together in person more frequently than that. So I don't think it's possible to be fully remote, 365 days a year, I think people have to sort of find a balance that works for them. And then the third thing is I think that every company is different, but so is every team and functional area. And so one example is you know, I think finance is unique, and that analysts and investment bankers work differently than marketers, for example, within our team or our company, I know that people on my team work differently than STRS, for example. So oftentimes, there's a case to be made for STRS to work in person together, because they feed off their energy, each other's energy, they learn best practices from phone conversations, that they're having sales pitches that are working and not working. And I don't think that marketing is as necessary for marketing to be together. All of that said, what we do do is anyone that wants to work from an office, we do allow them a stipend to go to a we work or a co working space in their community,

Ben Kaplan  16:45

if they've got craziness at home, and they just like I need to get Yes, I said got it. Well, and you mentioned before and as the different topics that I think you talk about in media or with analysts, you mentioned a topic that's certainly hot. And I'd be interested to see your your viewpoint on it, which is generative AI, chat GPT owned by open AI kind of blew the door off this because people in AI appreciated it. But other people did not appreciate how powerful it could be, how far it has come along. And how many use cases it had. So how are you thinking about that? Both in terms of I mean, you're a platform where people are going to ask questions about its, but also in your role as a CMO and how you might use it with your team and use it in marketing and all that. How much are you thinking about generative AI right now?

Khalid El Khatib  17:35

Like 80% of my time?

Ben Kaplan  17:37

80% 80%? Okay, yeah,

Khalid El Khatib  17:39

I would send those days 80%. There are days when it's 50%. I think the acceleration of generative AI represents a paradigm shift like I don't the I said that people were often being hyperbolic when they said like Office or bust or new office or bust. I don't think people are being hyperbolic when they say that generative AI will fundamentally change the way that we work and live. And I think that that is true, it's more true now for developers than almost any other profession. So a lot has been written. And you know, sometimes the media will focus on like, what this means for doctors, what generative AI means for the future of healthcare, what it could mean for the profession of law. But you know, a lot of those conversations are happening in the abstract AI may evolve to a place where I can write prescriptions for you, or I can be a trusted partner in mental health. Today, developers, whether it's using GitHub co pilot, or chat GPT, or any other generative AI tool are actually using these tools to write code, you know, sometimes to their benefit, sometimes to their detriment. And so we at StackOverflow, have actually carved out almost 10% of the company to work on our generative AI ml strategy relative to both our public platform and our paid products. And I'm working alongside our CEO in crafting that strategy and how we cascade it to our massive community of developers. So

Ben Kaplan  18:53

is that hat then really, or how much of that is like forming the message around this for how Stack Overflow fits into unlocking the potential of generative AI?

Khalid El Khatib  19:04

So I think it's building the plane as you fly it to some regard. So I think it's both of those things, it is certainly working closely with the product and innovation teams to ensure that the product that we build matches the expectations of our current customers and sees around corners to whatever extent possible, but you know, relative to our product that exists today, we have to work lockstep with sales to ensure that we are articulating a value proposition that meets this moment that we are fitting into the developer workflow and ecosystem relative to the rise of generative AI tools. And so you know, I think, in one meeting, I'll be, I'll be viewing a demo from an engineer on something that they're building that might not be ready for six months, and having a conversation around what pricing or packaging strategy might look like. And then on the next call, I'm briefing our sales enablement team on an article that just came out or an analyst paper and how we can distill it down Get it into the fields hands so that they can start talking to customers about what it means relative to our product as it exists today. And so I think every a lot of CMOS, especially in the technical space, or anyone who's selling to a technical persona has to do both of those things. They have to do a true product marketing work across multiple dimensions.

Ben Kaplan  20:17

And what is your advice then to CMO technical company? Maybe they're not in it quite as much as you would be in Stack Overflow, because you're actually a platform for people to find answers. So you're very related, because generally, I can help you find answers. But they're in a technical company, what is your recommendation? Now, if they're hearing you, and they're like Khalid spending 80% of his time, I'm not spending 80% of my time, right? I might be spending 2% of my time or 5% of my time, or we're experimenting? What is your advice for them on what they should be thinking about? Even if they don't have a platform for developers? Yeah,

Khalid El Khatib  20:48

I would, I think push your product leader on what your generative AI ml strategy is today, in the near term, and medium term. And and then in the long term, I think that again, there's not a single industry or sector that won't be disrupted by generative AI in some way or form. I think on the other side of the coin, though, is like don't buy into the hype cycle. When when, you know, when a jet shot GPT took off, we saw all sorts of SaaS products, like, you know, put a little sticker on something, calling it x ai. And it wasn't truly an AI tool or wasn't really solving a problem that needed to be solved, they were just sort of wrapping themselves up into the hype cycle in hopes of getting some press or not losing customers, for example. So I think, you know, marketers have to sort of toe the line where they're authentically marketing their products, especially if they're having a technical orientation, while also ensuring that they have a plan for a future on which gender BI is part of everyone's workflow.

Ben Kaplan  21:48

And what about the non technical CMO, maybe their food and beverage company or something else? And they're hearing about this they're learning about, they're just trying to figure out, you know, how can we use this this log productivity? Do I forbid my team to use it when they're writing this memo? Or do I encourage them to use it in a certain way? What is your advice for them?

Khalid El Khatib  22:08

You know, I think it's it's not dissimilar, in some ways to a couple of things that we've been through recently, first off the pandemic. And then this sort of frenetic macro economic cycle cycle where there's high growth, high growth, high growth, and then all of a sudden this swing to profitability, and the best way to navigate those two rather unprecedented events. So with the pandemic, you know, we had all of these conferences we were sponsoring field was a huge part of our demand and strategy. And then one day, it just totally went away. And then the same thing with this sort of economic cycle, I think, you know, 2008 certainly happened there was bubble, but things have never happened as quickly before. And they haven't been so as, as unpredictable as they are today. And the best way, in my opinion, to navigate both of those things was to talk to peers. So I spent a lot of time talking to CMOS, not only at other technical b2b companies, but at b2c companies, saying, hey, what's working for you? What are you reading? How were you staying smart? How are you retaining talent, the hype cycle is certainly made its way into the press. And so there's not a day that goes by that a newsletter or a media outlet isn't focused on a win or a loss, relative degenerative AI, but I just asked peers and other CMOS, Hey, what are you doing? How are you thinking about this? What are you building? Where are you seeing wins, not all companies are equal, some companies are using it to generate blog content already. We can't do that. Because our blog content is read by developers who are highly technical and can often discern when something is like marketing speak, or something fairly generic, which a lot of AI generated content is the

Tom Cain  23:35

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Tom Cain  24:26

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Ben Kaplan  24:35

Given a big statement, generative AI is going to change the way we work and the way we live. But aside from just that, as a technology, you've done your five year tour of duty at Stack Overflow by all accounts, it was quite successful. Where do you want to be in five years? And maybe I mean, a little bit of StackOverflow by just mean overall and I don't necessarily mean your career trajectory, but I just mean, where are we gonna be? What do you think we're doing now? All that you're able to do now that you couldn't imagine you do five years ago, project is five years in the future, what do you think we're going to be able to do? Where's this all headed for CMOS for marketers and for companies?

Khalid El Khatib  25:10

That's a big question. I think, Well, I think something that I spend a lot of time talking and thinking about is the sort of evolution of what it means to be a developer or technologist. And so we believe at Stack Overflow, that that persona is expanding at a incredibly rapid pace. And so I think about it through sort of two lens ones with the pandemic, we saw folks who were maybe they were actors, they were servers, and they were suddenly out of work. And they saw a ceiling when it came to their profession with the pandemic being a forcing function. And so they went to coding boot camps, they learned how to write code in their spare time, because they saw that as a lucrative profession or a hobby that they could lean into, I think that the other way that I think about it is through the lens of being a marketer. And so when I worked for an agency within WPP, 10 years ago, when we were building websites, for customers, the role of the engineer, and the designer in that process was quite siloed, an engineer would design a wireframe, the customer would react to it, they would then show it to an engineer, it would be scanned to the there would be like, a few scans are designed, the customer or the customer would react to it, and the build would start. And today, you know, there's two designers on my team, for example, they both know how to code and I react to things in real time, they'll start to play with something in figma. And then they'll build it on a staging site. And that's because there are so many marketers, whether it's marketing operations, demand gen product marketing, that now know how to code the same is true of investment banking, you know, analysts at financial services firms all know are are now they all sort of build their own data models. And I think that that sort of change is creeping into as crept into lots of professions over the last one to five years, and generative AI will be a huge accelerator here. So people will, whether you're a marketer, or a CMO or not any sort of profession, you'll be able, to some extent to do it and see yourself as a technologist. And I think that that, you know, will be a huge change for everyone.

Ben Kaplan  27:09

I love it in your background. I mean, you alluded to kind of your agency background, you've been in a couple different software oriented companies. What I don't see a lot of is four years at Teach for America. What is that? How does that experience impact your work now and sort of Teach For America for the people who I think a lot of people know, but people who don't know, is it almost like a domestic Peace Corps oriented around teaching? And in doing that you were there for four years? How does that influence you now that experience two

Khalid El Khatib  27:39

years, so I was at Teach for America, I was helping run communications for them from 2000. A, for four years or so around the 2008 era. And so most pragmatically, it was my first exposure to sided marketplace. So as you said, we had like a bench of what we called core members who are teachers, young people placed in low income communities around the country. And then we had all of our constituents, students, parents, of students, government officials, teachers, unions, etc. And so I learned how to communicate and market to two fairly disparate populations who needed to sort of see us through one lens. And then I did that, you know, when I was at an agency, I worked for Ted, they are two sided marketplace, and that they reach billions of people through their TED talks, but they do a conference with just a, you know, a few 1000 people that we have to reach, I was at a company called GLG, that had a bench of experts, and then you know, a number of customer companies. And today we have the 15,000 organizations that use our SaaS products, and the 100 million people who visit or public platform. And so that sort of muscle memory of being B to B to C, or however you want to position it was really born out of my work at Teach for America. And then the second one was the lens through which I viewed every job. And that's impact. So Teach for America, obviously, you know, our goal was to end educational inequity. And that instilled in me a passion for nonprofit and public sector work, which I still invest in today. But the reason that I took the job at Stack Overflow five years ago, is because I believe something that I still do today, if we can make developers lives easier, and more enlightened if we can make our platform more inclusive, more welcoming, welcoming, if we can broaden the definition of what a developer means to be more geographically diverse, younger, have different educational and economic backgrounds, then we can have a cascading effect on all of technology. And I think that's already happening. But Stack Overflow has a real role to play in that evolution.

Ben Kaplan  29:37

Final question then, given everything that we've talked about, I mean, you've highlighted lots of different skills that, you know, would be great for future marketers. I mean, we've kind of started out talking about cross functional thinking and also being a good partner for other leaders in other parts. We've been chatting about things that have changed, like more people have an ability to code certainly with things like gender of AI. It's like understanding emerging technologies and putting them into action. And final question is what is your advice for future CMOS future leaders on? What are the experiences, skills knowledge that they should gain? Now, you've outlined a few of those. But what else should people be doing now to prepare for the future and all the tremendous changes that are taking place?

Khalid El Khatib  30:16

Yeah, I think a big one and something that's served me well, through my whole careers, I, you know, I actually moved to New York 16 years ago, because I wanted to be a writer, like so many people. And rather than pursuing it as a full time career, I made it a pretty significant hobby of mine. So I've written for a number of magazines over the years for over 10 years now. And I think that that has served me incredibly well in my in my role. So, you know, I think that CMOS can need to continue to invest in communication, whether that's helped partnering with a CMO and a great company wide email, whether it's working with their IR department on a letter to shareholders, or whether it's making sure that you're reviewing the most important social copy copy for a company to ensure that its purity, while still being on message and will be taken seriously by your customers and prospects. And I think that, you know, coincidentally, that's one thing that AI is not doing super well. It's great at crunching numbers, it's great, and relying on historical information to sort of drive you to an outcome or help you make a decision. But it's not, it hasn't really captured the essence of the human voice. And I think that CMOS continue to have a huge role to play, and what the voice of the company is, but also the voice of the CEO, both externally and internally to your employees. And so I can't stress enough how many emails come to me in draft form that I spend time rewriting. And you know, sometimes just that you think, wow, like, I'm CMO of this company, and, and I'm rewriting five emails a week. But I think there's actually tremendous value in that ensuring they're more conversational, that they'll be better consumed and internalized, again, by your your employees and your customers. Because, you know, and just in my experience, not that many people are great writers. And it's, it's a hugely important skill. Well,

Ben Kaplan  31:59

and at least at our agency, everything we do, everything we write needs to be strategic, it needs to have, like, we're not just writing things to write things where like, we're trying to communicate something. And in fact, to be strategic. And to communicate something, oftentimes we're trying to do is like, peel away all the noise, all the stuff that makes it hard to understand to get at the essence, because our goal or sometimes if I'm writing, not my everyday email, but my not the one that chat GPT can write for me now. But the other one is, I'm trying to communicate something in such a way that not only does the end audience or person understand it, they can communicate it to someone else. It's so sticky, and so that they can tell other people I need this to spread through an organization or a group of people or have an impact. And that if you can do that, that's a special skill. And Changi PD got a ways to go then the 10 points with the introductory sentence and the closing sentence.

Khalid El Khatib  32:51

That's right. That's right. And look, I think that's where agencies provide tremendous value is that external perspective, because oftentimes, like a CEO, or even a product marketing team will have to answer or perspective and you really have to, like write writing requires you to sort of read it through the lens of the audience, you know, better than anyone that agencies can do that extraordinarily well. But I also think that's really the role of the CMO is to read it as someone else and they have to be positioned to do that. 

Ben Kaplan  33:13

Khalid El Khatib, former CMO at Stack Overflow, really interesting conversation. One, you're a technologist, but you're a technologist who loves writing a bit of left brain a bit of right brain and there aren't that many of those folks around. So thank you so much for joining us on Khalid El Khatib and continued success. Thank you for having me.

Tom Cain  33:34

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