How to Become a CMO with Sangram Vajre

In this episode of Office Hours, MK meets with Sangram Vajre Co-Founder of Terminus and host of Flip My Funnel, to dig into what it takes to land a spot among the few as Cheif Marketing Officer.

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Transcription

MK: a few more folks are joining us Sangram. I just want to thank you for joining me on this episode of Office Hours. As those of you know, who have been dialing into office hours, the goal of office hours is to learn the things that they don’t teach you in the classroom. I found that I got the most value out of the lessons that I learned on the streets, if you will, out in the world, but also learning directly from the experts themselves.
I made a point to pride myself by. Uh, build my own personal career journey based off of the folks that I surrounded myself and the expertise, and always surrounded myself with people who were smarter than me, who knows smarter than Sangram’s the host of flip my funnel and founder of Terminus. Sangra.
Thank you so much for joining me today.

Sangram: MK, thanks for having me and Robert for making introduction for us and excited to share this, because this is a topic where I feel like last four or five years, I’ve just mentor people around it. And I’ve always found people with like their deer in the headlights, like what?
I need to learn this. I need to do that. And I’m like, yeah. And that just changed the conversation for them. So I’m hoping that this, this helps people to do, to think through the process. They might have to take.

MK: Absolutely. And what I love about the process that you have developed is that the CMO path or path to getting into that CMO role, it’s not a linear progression.

It’s not what I call the ladder framework, where you just like climb a wrong step by step by step. The way that you approach getting someone to a point of qualification and actualizing their career journey to becoming a CMO has a lot to do with the pockets of experience in a lattice framework that they can gather in the sum of those parts of what makes them that much stronger of a COO.

I’m super curious to hear though, the mind journey has been very much a lattice framework. I’ve been up to upside down inside out, but for you and your journey and progression into the CMO role. How has your journey unfolded?

Sangram: Definitely not very traditional. Um, and, and the more I find out, the more people actually have become CMOs because of their upside down journey around it.

Uh, my bachelor’s and master’s is in computer science. So I should be a stereotypical Indian geek, you know, coding and doing some stuff. Um, but I was really bad at it. So it, they kicked me out of that area. And what happened was. Um, in, in this is basic. And what happened in master’s was I would have a group of folks who are phenomenal coders and they would just push me forward to say, why don’t you present what we are developing?
So I have no problem presenting. So I ended up doing zero coding, if any, in my master’s program and presenting my team’s findings and putting a story around it, and we would always win and they would be sweating and I’d be like laughing and engaging in pulling people in the conversation. So it was a great thing for them.

It was a great thing for me, but I learned through that process, like, hi, I’m no coder, so I’m not going to start, stop pretending that and start figuring it out. Um, but I did realize that. Stories are what started to move me and made me think about stuff. And I kind of took that to heart, um, because I think each one of us has a gift.

And we have to dial into that. We have to receive it. We have to accept it and say that this is a gift that you have, that you can do it and you work on your gift to make it better. Um, so I think it’s a, it’s a process of self-realization on a few things. Like what are your gifts? And then recognizing that you can be good at all the people who are good at all, but the bridge, you don’t want to be average.

You want to be extraordinary. So you need to be brave to be one thing, uh, and be okay with that. I think there was a lot of that.

MK: Yeah, I think what you’ve hit on the head is a lot of people are starting to come to this realization now is that it’s not about spending the time investing in the things you aren’t good in.

Although there is importance on understanding the things you aren’t good in, but spending more and more time leaning into the things you are good in and using that as your fulcrum, as your momentum to gain the velocity, you need to have to get the trajectory that you want to open up into the CMO role.
Wow. So you, and based on the conferences you and I have had, you’ve developed a literal rule formula, a literal formula to helping people actualize their potential to get themselves into the C-suite as the CMO. Are you cool with hearing that today?

Sangram:Absolutely. Absolutely. And again, for people to recognize, it’s like, whenever you say formula, it’s like.
Something that you can remember and, and recognize that this is, these are some of the things that you suddenly have to have, because without that, it’s going to be shooting in the dark. You just get lucky. But those are some things for some of us who have stumbled into have recognized that somehow when we look back, those were the points that we actually had that got us in that position.

So I’m just really putting that in front and center and saying, you know, this is, this are some of the key elements that you’ve gotta pay attention to.

MK: Excellent. All right. So for those of you that have dialed us, uh, dialed in live, join us live. If you have any questions, use the chat pane to toss those questions.

And this is just as much an interaction for you as it is also a learning moment for me, for anybody, any of those that are reaching out on demand or watching this on demand Sangram is always very available on LinkedIn. So if you do have questions where you want to explore on this, like reach out to Sangram on LinkedIn.
So yeah. Without further ado. Sangram’s do you want to dive into what you’ve been developing and working on a refining with folks in your network who want to get jumped into the CMOs role?

Sangram: All right, let’s do that. Let’s do it. Can you see my screen share again? All right. So we’re just going to go through this.

Uh, we’ll probably double time it, because it will be available as you said on the recording, but hopefully people can get a, get a feel for it. And this is the presentation I just did for inbound and Unleash and some other places. So, um, so I have taken some of the feedback and had it indirect, so it’s just getting refined.

Right. Um, but I wanted to start with a very clear facts, which is. Even like less than, I mean, it’s, if people feel like it’s different, let me know, but everybody I’ve talked to the Forester and all the studies that I’ve looked at the reality is that less than 1% of the marketers will even have a shot, even have a shot at becoming a CMO.

So, whatever you’re doing, you have to take a step back. You can be multitasking when you’re talking, when we were talking about this topic, if this is important to you, this is something you have to like really understand that this is not for everybody. Everybody doesn’t have to be a CMO and that might be something what comes out of this and say, Oh, I don’t want to do all that, but just great.

That’s a great outcome. And if you want to, you need to be very intentional about some of the elements that you need to be to get there. And it’s not as . I’m going to be a stepper, uh, where you just go up and up, it’s more of like surround sound and you recognize what’s going around you and become self-aware.

So that stat should tell you how important and how difficult it can be. But again, that’s what it takes to, to become portable 1% blow up. So. Okay, go ahead.

MK: Yeah. I was just going to say that such a sobering point to realize, you know, how, how few and far between roles in a C suite, especially as a COO are going to be, but I also really liked the point that you emphasize as well, too.

Like I only had seen this, that a no is just a yes in disguise. It’s just a no right now. And for you to rule out job options for yourself is also a really, really valuable, valuable experience to go through. So don’t be afraid to come to the realization after having gone through this exercise that a CMO role just may not be the right role for you as well too.

Sangram: And that’s great. I mean, it’s just one less headache. The one less thing that you want to do, because so-and-so did it one less thing to copy and then try to be someone you’re not like it’s, it’s a great, great thing to do. Figure out an honesty out. I hope more people would recognize that and take that and figure out, but everything that they’re doing in the life, so.

Here’s the formula. If you want to consider this as a formal averages, three part thing that you got to do, and then one part that will be very much, that’s going to be at the center piece of it. So no, your superpower will. We’re going to talk about what those superpowers might be, and I’ve just started to learn more about them.

Uh, as, as I’ve started to build this framework, no, your business, this is the part I think most people struggle with because, uh, if you said MK, if you’re in sales, you know, you can be an SDR then an AE and then a manager and then a director and stuff you from CSM, same thing. If you are, uh, as an engineer, the same thing, it’s not true for marketers.

If you are a great content can guess what? You’re going to get more content marketing work to do. If you’re an events person, guess what? You’re going to do more events. Then it says a siloed approach to running. So if you want to have experience with product marketing and you’re a graphic designer, good luck, right.

It’s a really hard thing to do. So you have to get very intentional about, so those that’s the business, the stakeholder part we’ll get into. And the part that’s under, it’s almost the foundation of it is building a personal brand. And I don’t mean in terms of being on LinkedIn and trying to do a whole bunch of things.

It’s meaning that if you’re not visible in your team, in your organization, the chances of somebody picking you up to be the next CMO in that organization is, is not possible. It just like goes back to let them 1%, uh, thing. So you have to figure out how you become visible apart of it. So what I’m going to go through rope again, try to double time.

This is. When I’ll, I’m going to share the frameworks for each one of these, and then I’m going to give you questions. And I’m going to have a slide where you just fill that up as you go through it and then maybe share it with MK or I on LinkedIn or anything where you say, like, what is it? And ultimately at the end of this presentation, you should be able to look at those about four or five sentences and say, okay, here’s what I think you need to do next.
Whatever path you take on. So that’s, that’s the goal often. So get your pen and paper ready. Uh, if you’re listening to this, that’s right. We’re ready for that. So super power we talked about, and this is something I’ve said a lot more recently, that being intentional is way more important than being brilliant.

I always thought that being the smartest person in the room and having the best ideas is a great thing. And you know, it’s great. There’s a place and purpose for that. But if you’re not intentional and not executing on those ideas or even one idea, that’s the problem. That’s where things go South. So a framework that I developed to figure out what, how do, how are people thinking and how do they would bucket they fall in, and people don’t want to put themselves in buckets, but guess what if, you know, Then you can, you can be big on it.

And I don’t know, then you’re going to scramble. So it’s important to start putting you yourself in a bucket that is your gift back to our earlier conversation. So I look at is that most people that I spend time with are either a dreamer, doer, or a driver. So I’m going to go through each one of them and each one of them, each one of it is a superpower.

And a big blind spot that you’re going to face it. So, as an example, I’m a dreamer. So for me, it’s all about new ideas. Like every day I come up with 10 ideas of doing fades. So my biggest challenge is this my ability to focus and deliver on something. And here’s the big thing. Because dreamers are the people who think big and can change the world.

I mean, we need dreamers in our life, but if they can deliver on that and they’re not focused on it, here’s, what’s going to happen with you. If you’re a dreamer, you probably already know that you lose credibility. And without that, you can’t fully change the world. So, if you are a dreamer listening to this, you gotta recognize that you, you know, you have to, sometimes in my case, after bite my tongue with the ideas or write down, I keep a list of it.
If it keeps coming back, then I know it’s a big idea. Then I go for it. So that’s my system of keeping up with the ideas and not getting suffocated because I have to get my ideas out. So I write it down and then I pick one or two to focus on and try to deliver on it. And then that’s how I build credibility to do and focus on the next idea.

Very important way to go to that.

MK: Yeah. So dreamers, Achilles heel essentially is the shiny object syndrome. You can think everything is the best idea out there, and you might chase all of those big ideas, but until you refine the discipline of knowing, what’s a big idea and knowing what’s a good idea in a moment, but not something to actually execute on.

Sangram: That is the differentiator between a dreamer who is successful in their either identity and a dream or food. I ended up losing that credibility. Yeah.
There are a lot of dreamers sitting in a coffee club and talking about how the world should be better. Right. There are lot of people having a dinner time conversation saying that, Oh, I wish we, you know, I had the Uber idea, but there are not a lot of people who actually went and did it.

And that’s the difference between, uh, and Elon Musk’s of the world. And people be in your possession and other people’s possession. Last actually said, you know what? I have a dream, but I’m going to act on it. Big difference. Um, that, that brings, that brings up to this idea of, of, um, doers, not doers or people who actually get stuff done.

They, without them, I don’t know, asleep. Dreamers can only dream things of how the wall is going to be. But then the doers are the one you need in your organization. Um, the more organization I’ve talked to almost 60, 70% of the organization is made up of doers. So if you think what doer, I’m not sure if I’d do it as a good word.

I think there is a great word. If you’re a doer here’s what’s happening, people trust you. To get things done. People rely on you. Um, and when I looked at, and the way I know who is a dreamer is in the words they use. So people like Tim cook, if you, if you listen to what he says, he says, Hey, I like to get things done.

I like to have these things. You look at Saba. Then I looked at people who actually are great. Doers are like 10 cook, Sheryl Sandberg. There. Always trying to make the process a little bit better and getting things done. So it’s a big idea. If you’re a doer, if you know that people are relying on you to just keep the things going and without you that there’s nothing has happened, you are the linchpin that pulls things together, but here’s your, here’s your big challenge.

You’re probably struggling with the picture of success. Because you’re so good at what you do. The list of things would never end. And it’s because people trust you, people are going to rely on you and you’re going to be that person who just has those things to continue to do. And because of that, you don’t know how to say no.

Do anything doers, the biggest challenge is the ability for them to say no. And the only way you can actually say no to something is when you have, Oh, you know, this is where we’re going. So why would I do that? Like, I should be focused on this, but you can’t do that because people trust you and you don’t want to break that trust.

So I see that happening a lot with doers and, and they, they. Suffer with the, the challenge of prioritization in, in everything they do. So doers, I love them because without doers, you can’t operate, but they struggle with priority.

MK: Yeah, absolutely.

And I often use this metaphor with my team when I see them going too far down the rabbit hole of being a doer is that they need to raise their cruising altitude.

Doers are so close to the tree tops that they risk close, clipping their wings here and there, and that causes the tailspin from there. But if they bring their cruising altitude up just a little bit, they’ll be able to prioritize more successfully and they’ll actually be able to see the forest for the trees they’ll need.
They’ll be able to see at least what’s on the horizon, a couple of moves. They may not be the dreamer who can see like. Years mile leads down the road, but a doer, if they just know how to raise their cruising altitude just enough, they can balance being too close and into the weeds with having visibility into the next step or two ahead of them.

Sangram: And it, it they’re game changers in, in many ways. Like they are the ones who actually don’t know if they recognize the impact they have on the organization. So when you find a doer and if you want to do or give them a high five, because they need a lot more love than they typically to get an organization, uh, because they’re like the unsung heroes almost of the organization.

That brings me to the third one, which is the driver. Now, where are the people who just want to move the world further, faster? You know, like dreamers, they want to change the wall doers. They want to keep the woods running. And drivers are like, everything has to be done against today, not today, but yesterday that’s your driver typically.

And what happens with that mentality of getting things done, people are going to reach out to you for launching a new product, launching a new website. You are the person who are like, I’ll give you to create this new thing. Oh, I, I need so-and-so for this. So you know who the drivers are in your organization.

But because there are so much into results as the way they think about everything, they they’re driven by results. That’s really what their way of looking at success. That their biggest challenge becomes kindness. And I, and I don’t just mean kindness to the team, but even kindness for themselves. Like taking a day off and not, not thinking about work or doing something for themselves, like they become so driven by the idea of getting things done for their faster movement of the world that they forget to be kind to themselves and to their team.

And a common result of that as is burnout. Like they, they get burned out. They get their team burn out and they ask like, Hey, why do I have to ask for updates? Why do I have to ask for this? Why do I have to do this? Well, because you’re burning yourself up, you’re burning your teammates. So nobody’s excited anymore to do all the things, but they’re going to do it because you’re pushing him to do it.

And you’ll see that debate point. So these three things are almost the buckets. Is that I meet somebody I’ve done like a whole bunch of, uh, ways to figure out who we’re talking to, but this came out because I want to know as a manager or as a leader immediately when I’m talking to. So if I know I’m talking to the dreamer, then I know I need to help him or her to figure out a way to get focused on a couple of things and not crush their ideas by asking how are you going to do it more of like, Oh, let’s focus on these two ideas.

Let’s figure out how do we drive it and help them build credibility. If I’m talking to a doer. I’m going to always ask them also. So where are we going with this? Where are we going? What, what, what what’s, what did you for this thing? Like what are we do? Gloves? Are we do hide? Like what’s what’s going on?

What do you see further right now? If it’s only see a week ahead, that’s what I need you to help them with. And then with driver, I’ll ask them like, alright, how’s your mom doing? Right. How has your housing, because they have already sent me so many updates on a regular basis that I don’t need any more project updates.

I just want to know how they are doing and how their family’s doing. And how is, uh, Joe and Sally on your team doing like, so that’s another way to coach your team as you think about as a manager or leader. So it’s, it’s also a team building exercise, but also to know that who are you? So you recognize what your superpower is.
If you can dream big. You can get things done. You can move things for the false Fenster and be aware of where, what are the areas that, that need help.

MK: Yeah, it’s so important too. Especially with the hustle culture that we see out there right now, the driver has a really interesting role to play in either amplifying the hustle culture or restoring balance within the hustle culture to say like results do matter, but there are other priorities outside of the workplace.

Like how’s your mom doing? How’s your family doing to make sure that you have balance and you restore that balance in the way that you drive him, which ultimately. Is what we’re looking at here. When you look at these three types of individuals, you’re looking at the way in which they drive impact and what their intrinsic motivators are to make that impact.

But if you over-correct in one area or overuse your skillsets, you run the risk of actually causing damage. Or if you’ve underutilized these things as well too, you’re not realizing the superpower that you need in order to complete the formula.

Sangram: Yeah. It’s a self identification. So then if nobody takes anything other than recognizing if their agreement, your driver, maybe they can type in the chat who do think they are.

And think if you have a team, you probably have already started to recognize, Oh, I have a Bremer Dewar, but here’s the other thing I’m gay that as a man, as a manager, as a leader, as you become part of a startup, leading your team, the importance of having all three people on your team. Hmm. Yep.

A lot of times you’ll have a dreamer.

So we have a lot of ideas, but not getting stuff done. Then you know where the problem is, what you don’t have on the team doesn’t mean you need to stop the dreamer. You need to hire a doer, but to make somebody, this is the problem that a lot of people get, get, get into what you were talking in the beginning.

They try to be then one, 301 and three, one make people average. Yep. Average, because if I stopped reading and I started to do thing, I’m going to become average. I’m not going to be a great dreamer. No, I’m going to be a great doer and I’m going to become average and there is no place in the 1% for average.

Yeah. I mean, that’s exactly it, right? That the key here is not to try to find yourself in the middle of this Venn diagram. The key here is to help isolate which area of the Venn diagram that you’re in and lean inspect to harness that super power. But the first step on this is self-actualization, it’s being self-aware and knowing which one of these three quadrants or areas you belong in.

And then you have that as your identity, as that, that shield, then that super power that helps you fight the evil of terrible marketing. If you will, um, actually actually asked us a question and actually asked, do you run across many people who are dreamers and doers?

Sangram: That’s a good one. A lot of times I’ll see a more dual driver as a common trait of people were like getting stuff done.
Now they’re getting stuff done faster Gallup mode. Um, I think we have tendencies depending upon the project initiatives to do dive into something. So some, you know, dreamers for a period of time can become doers to get things done, like to build, get focused and make sure, so. Right. Creating a project plan, not something I enjoy doing, but you know what to get my project done to have focus.

I need to do that sometimes too, to get it down. So as a dreamer to know that you’re now getting into the door thing, the reality, but here’s the thing you have to do that you have to learn to do that, but you have to recognize that that’s not your happy place. So you’re not going to be very successful in that place, if you are put there too long.

So as an, as a leader, you all need to be situational leaders. So we have to recognize what the organization or you, that your team needs that. So we need to be situational leaders in that sense. Uh, if, if everybody’s struggling, you’re not hitting numbers, you’re not. And, and the things that aren’t getting done, you don’t need to put another idea.

Is there a, you need to help prioritize. So I think there’s a, there’s a need to recognize. What’s going on and do to vacillate a little bit. Um, but recognizing that you are the best, the gift of God for you, the best thing, when you actually do something that is phenomenal and nobody else is can actually do something that you can do and recognize that that’s who you are.

Is such a liberating thought that you don’t have to be all of it. That, that’s what I hear from a lot of people. It’s like, I just don’t have a dreamer. So I’m going to dream big ideas. I’m going to partner up with doers and drivers. So they keep me accountable. And we can move forward.

MK: Yeah. So you don’t have to be a sheep in Wolf’s clothing.

They call this like your energy source. So when your energy sources actualizes a dreamer, doer, or driver, you are that much more impactful and effective at the work that you’re doing. But if you try to be a dreamer and you’re really a doer, you might run in and zap your energy sources on the work that you’re doing, because you’re going to exhaust this like really grandiose ideas system that you’re trying to bake into the place when really.

You just need to lean into the prior prioritization. It just makes sure that you as a doer and you have that picture of success in your mind and you can project manage the heck out of something. That is an okay super power to have. And one thing that you just mentioned. Is that it, you have to structure your team.

If you’re going in this direction and you’ve identified your superpower, you have to structure your team so that there are complimentary skills surrounding you, such that your energy sources are actualized that much greater. And those that are around you as energy sources are actually also pinging off of you and the need that you have for their skill sets.

Sangram: So I’ll give you an example of this fun. Is w you know, when, when you know this and let’s say you’re going to an interview tomorrow morning for a CMO position or a manager leader position. You can imagine you walking in there and saying that, Hey, well, I know that I’m a dreamer. I know that my, one of my biggest challenges when they asked like, well, what are your challenges?

And we try to cop out of those responses. Like, no, I recognize my challenges to focus. And here’s how I know to focus on it. I think you win so many more points because now you know who you are. You could say that, Hey look, I’m great at storytelling. Like we’ll get into the second part of it. Uh, but I’m not great at metrics.

I’m not good at spreadsheets. I don’t spend most of my time. So what I need as if I get into this position is to hire somebody who could compliment me with them or partner with somebody who can compliment with them. I think if you ever walked into a room and say, Oh, I got it all, I can do it all. I think people know and can smell it that, yeah, you’re, you’re, you’re just trying to make up things, but if you are open about it and say, here’s what I’m really good at.

And here are the things I’m going to need help with. And here’s how I’m going to compensate. People love that. Like how hard is that person tomorrow, as opposed to someone who says that?

MK: Yeah, so authenticity and self-awareness, that is what helps you harness that superpower. There you go.

Sangram: So I’m going to, I don’t know how if you’re going to be able to go through all of it, but let, let’s just give a couple of questions and maybe we go through basic and then we can, uh, we can jump into some of the other areas.

But here are a couple of questions that I want people to do truly ask themselves and writing down, right? This is, this is where you get into is like, I didn’t, if I wanted it is some of, if you just drop who you are, um, that’s great. What your blind spot is. And, and also this is the second question that people need to ask, like, okay, if you want to be a CMO identify, what type of CMO you want to be, um, in terms of organization.

So. It might make sense for bigger organizations. They need people who are getting things done, that they need to have people who are able to more do more people management. They need more of a driver do. Or sometimes if you are trying to build a new category in our case, which in the early days, You probably need somebody who’s dreaming about it.

So maybe you need a small, fast road, early stage find bigger. So not all CMOs are good. I’ll be a horrible CMO for a very big company who is asking me to do like 20 events a year and do this and this and this. Like, I’ll be horrible in that because that’s just not how I think that if somebody asks me, Oh, go, let’s go build a new category on this.

Like I’m all in. Let’s just reinvent everything, reimagine everything. Imagine how you mentioned that. All in on that, because that’s where my mind goes. So for me, I’m not, don’t want to be a big company CMO, but if you do, then you need to know that you have the skills. So these two questions are very important questions for you to recognize and self identify so you can figure out which type of company do you want to go after.

MK: Yeah, that’s such an important point to make too, that not every size company is going to have a need for, um, a CMO with, uh, different areas of expertise in their superpowers as well, too. So size of an organization and work, you can actualize your super power is really important. I know for me, kind of marketing here at Alyce.
Uh, I know that accompany at Alyce’s size of about 150 employees. It’s the right spot for me to take my dreamer doer mindset and use that to drive results and offset myself in those skillsets with my driver teammates as well. And love that. So super important.

Sangram: This brings to this question right. Where we can just, everybody can just write it down.
It’s like simple as that. Like, I am a big dreamer or doer or drivers. So you just fill that up. I am a dreamer I’m best suited for a similar position at. You know, small mid-size large whatever size company you may even say, industry. If you know what that is, that will narrow down. That’s the important of it.

It’s the narrowed down to a point where you just know, this is what I’m going to start focusing up, because once you do that, now you’re able to say, These are the areas that I need to do develop, need me to build relationships and understanding of that industry a lot more. It just would simplify it today.

You might be looking around them to know everything. This is going to help you and say that, no, you don’t need to know everything. You know, a lot about this industry and this type of company, and because you are so-and-so person. So that’s, that’s the homework for everybody. And this is what I would love from MK to MK or me just hit us up later on and tell us what it is you get back.

That’s the fun part. All right. So we’ll, we’ll try double time. This one, because this is, this is much more than the first part was super important for people to just recognize that in the rest of it is like, all right, these are things that you just need to now, and you start focusing on it. So for example, I’m the business.

I’m still using the three circles to just keep it simple and areas from a CFO perspective, you need to really understand is. Storytelling like that is an area that I feel I’m good at. I’m not great at business metrics. I feel I’m, I’m relatively okay. At team building. These are the areas that you just need to be super knowledgeable about the new as a CMO.

If you can’t tell your company’s story, you have a problem. So you need to just get good at it. Now you may not be the evangelist type, so that’s okay. You’ll hire an evangelist to do that, but two, you need to be able to tell the company story better than anybody else. That’s something that you have to, if you don’t know all the document, how you get there, metrics.

This is my big was big challenge. Like I love so much of the customer interactions and conversations and being out there that somebody opens a spreadsheet for me and both who is like, I started building off like that. Just not my thing. So I have to like realize, okay. The way to get around it is to recognize and understand the top five business metrics or top 10 business metrics and just know them left and right.

Don’t not, I’m trying to understand every metric of every time, just get super good at your business metrics that your CEO or CFO or CRO things and cares about, learn about them, understand that there’s enough information about, uh, about all of that, and then get, get, go, get going with that and team. This is the part that goes without saying, if you are going to be a CMO, chances are, you’ll have a team.

And what’s interesting about that is your team can fill some of these holes for you, which is something you need to be doing, but you have to have the, and this is the part where you may not want to be. If you’re, if you feel like you like to get stuff done and faster than everybody else. You’re going to have trouble leading a team because if your team is not that, and if you’re a driver, a lot of times people had a bunch of drivers, big problem, because you just get a whole bunch of fast moving, running thing and not knowing wherever you’re running, wherever you’re running.

Oh, it doesn’t doesn’t matter. Keep it running. Like that’s sometimes what you get into right. So as a team leader, you now, as, you know, if you’re dream or you need doers and drivers on your team, if you’re a driver, you do not need a whole bunch of drivers. So you have to get out of your comfort zone and be patient for letting somebody else tell a story and stuff like that.

So these three things become the cornerstone of understanding your business and articulating your business.

MK: Wow. And one distinction I do want to make, is that just because you were using the same Venn diagram to do this doesn’t necessarily mean that dreamers are, have a propensity for storytelling and, um, do or propensity for metrics, is that once you triangulate these three tenants of the business that you are managing.

This is where you’ve been able to harness your ability to master the domain of your business. It doesn’t necessarily say that all three of us are good storytellers or all doers are really great. That metrics, right.

Sangram: Absolutely. I think it has nothing to do with, you may have a more, uh, excitement for one thing or the other based on where you are, what your comfort level is.

It also depends on if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Like I think a lot of other things could pull into it. Um, but these are the elements that. You got to be able to do it and gotta be able to recognize, Oh, I don’t know enough about my business metrics. So if you’re already a graphic designer to that, chances are, you’re not looking at the inbound number and the gross profits and the ARR that actually have the net net retention.

What does that really mean for the business? Those are not the metrics they’re thinking about. Right. But you’re probably putting in index and not even thinking about it. Get intentional about it. Ask those questions. You have a great opportunity to do it. Um, questions for, for people to do now reflect on it’s like identifying.

How you can become a better storyteller where you can do listen to tech docs, go in and do more. One of those. Uh, what do you call those masters ice for new Toastmasters? In the earliest days it was FinTech Toastmasters. Um, maybe, um, every Friday or every Monday, especially a company like MK yours, like your.

Allow, you’re literally encouraging people to, to share what’s going on. So you don’t have to tell a story about your work. You can start getting better at, let me tell you a story about my upbringing or how I learned about my job or whatever that is. So figuring out ways you can tell stories and get, do your presentation skills, because it’s going to be really important.

You’ll be doing a board deck. So think about that. Yep. Metrics. Feed out of the top five, 10 metrics. Uh that’s that’s all, don’t, don’t overblow it. If that’s not your thing, then make sure, you know, the 10 business metrics are. So, because that’s how your CEO CFO is going to communicate with you. The other, you can rely on somebody else.

Um, and then you identify the gaps we talked about or do a driver find those and make sure you hide them first. It will be very uncomfortable. It will be not your natural lotion. So you have to be very intentional. Yep. Excellent. So this is, this is the writing down. I am going to focus on. Take your word team, building storytelling metrics.

And then really this is the part where I feel a lot of people miss is I’m going to do something I thinking about it every week or every month, whatever your, your, your idea of consistency is just do it. That’s the part where you get better and you, if you’re not good at all of it, that’s okay. You just pick one and you’re going to start realizing, Oh, I’m really actually good at that.

And you do. That’s great. Now I need help here. So going to the motion is super important.

MK: Nice. And that space after doing, I’m assuming you want it to be somehow some sort of a smart goals, specific, measurable, attainable, relatable. Time-bound like keeping all of those letters and acronyms as detail oriented as possible so that you are holding yourself accountable.
And with that, you now can also measure your success based on what you’ve actually pinpointed. As you know, the thing you’re going to focus on.

Sangram: As, as you say that, like, I think one thing that comes to mind MK, is I’ve seen this, that if you do anything consistently, it’s going to create massive outcome for you.

So. Consistency creates massive outputs. I’ve just shared that internally and something that I try to do. Like we do podcasts, we just do it consistently.

We do live, I do it every Wednesday. So anything that I do, I try to create a routine around it. So you become consistent and if you’re doing it routinely, then you become good at it.

And that’s a big part of all of it. So by doing. You’re figuring out I’m going to do this once a week or three times a month or four times a year. They get it and stick with it and do it. I think that the far left I’m willing to leave. Okay, I’m going to start doing this next year, then you’re not never going to get to it.

So that, that part I see happening more. No your stakeholders. This is where everybody, uh, perhaps more than anything else. This is where we think about. You can get into that position without having the trust of the people that are hiring for that position. So I’ll put these three things and this is, this is a flat one.

One thing I should have asked you, like which one do you think, but maybe I’ll phrase it this way MK, which one of these three roles, the CEO, the CFO and CRO. Is there a role that you feel most marketers have least understanding, and least amount of relationship with?

MK: Well, I would say historically it’s probably the CFO that they have the least amount of understanding.
There’s potentially a language barrier there and a prioritization barrier there. Marketing wants to spend a lot of money so they can get all the leads in or all the accounts into a more qualified state flipping over to sales. The CFO is let’s spend a little less money last week and not stop experimenting with so many different tools out there, uh, and be more, more, uh, conscientious with our company’s finances.

Sangram: And who is the person who actually gives you the money?
So it’s a, it’s a very interesting, and, and I’m glad you shared that because your CFO is by far, you CEO’s normally asking your CFO, do you trust them? That’s the question that’s happening behind. I get something that I will ask if my company and I was like, do you trust what that team is saying? Because that’s really what it comes down to.

And the CFO guy, I don’t know. I’m like, I’ve never seen anything from them or like budget is they haven’t really given me a budget. So if you don’t have strong relationship with CFO, your budget is not going through this. And then the CEO typically would ask the CRO. Do you think they’re doing anything for you?

Like forget the metrics, forget everything, the CROs, if any of the CRO said, well, you know, they do good, but I don’t know if they’re actually driving true business outcome, no matter how many metrics to share your billing, it’s all comes down to trust. I’ve seen CMOs hired and fired based on those two conversations.

Right. You trust them that your budget. And do you feel like they’re actually doing anything to drive your business? For two things, leader, those two questions mean that you have to go a ton of trust. With these three people.

MK: So important too. I mean, at the time of this recording, we’re on the precipice of a financial year planning as well too.

So anybody who has their spreadsheets open looking ahead to the year in front of us now is the time if you have felt like you’ve invested in the trust and the relationship with your CFO, where you aren’t driving the results that your CRO wants. Driven now is the time to just wipe the slate clean and get in the mix with them and problem solve with them so that you can earn that trust.

And you can bridge the divide between a language barrier. If the CFO cares about fiscal responsibility, show them how widely you’re going to use the money that they’re investing into your organization next year. If the CRO cares about the results that you’re driving them, show them the path forward with the tactics that you’re deploying with the channels that you’re trying to amplify in the next year to show the tangible results that you’re going to be driving for the organization.

Sangram: It is so monumentally important, MK, as you said, if they, if you, if, if this is the time you’re having that conversation with them. And you don’t have the trust before, like the whole year of showing incremental success, incremental, um, trust building it it’s, it’s something I always say all the time is that you don’t build trust in a day, you know, week in a month is definitely not in a budget cycle.
Uh, you build trust like way before, one day at a time, and it’s going to be harder for people to do that. When you’re not in the office and having conversations, just all the guff now you’re, you have to do it very intentionally. So those relationships CFOs you call that is the least of our relationship, but are the ones that they are the one we’re actively in the CEO, Hey, we need to give them more budget.

And the CEO will say, okay, fine, because the CFO is literally the second in command or your organization. So. This is the question I asked, like, what makes you the most uncomfortable of these three of any of these three roles and wherever that is, start building relationship with them because that’s how you move forward.

Whatever’s the most uncom uncomfortable. So write this down. I’m going to build strong relationship with Maya. Either in the company because of how it is, but if it’s a big company or if you’re not comfortable, maybe outside of your company, this is where I’ve read. I’ve seen them be seen people, Oh, I’m in sales.

I’m going to start. Or I’m in marketing. I want, I don’t know if I have relationship with my CMO as much, but I’m going to have. Uh, other CMO and we, and, and focus on that other CRO or the CEO or the CFO. So whoever it is either inside the organization or outside the organization, I’m going to have a relationship with me, the mentor relationship.

I’m going to follow their work. I’m going to engage with their content or set up meetings once in a while, do to learn about them and the process around it, but find those and build those relationships. You cannot move to the next level unless you understand. And what’s going on in the minds of these.

Hmm. So important. All right. The last one, and this is the part where, where I feel people should just now, like no one hires the invisible. Yeah, just taking a crack at it. I don’t know if everybody agrees with me on this, but I think I’m pretty good. I’m a hundred percent sure on that. Like you’re not hiring within this little person itself.

People trip on this, um, somewhat an accident, these because they just feel like as long as they do good work, shouldn’t be noticed no. And the best and the best marketers are actually the worst marketers of themselves.

MK: So it is ironic. The cobbler’s children never have any shoes. Yeah. Marketers forget to market themselves.

Sangram: Always no shoes.

So you got to learn the art of doing that internally. So when I think about this as this is where the talk to each share model, come in place and again, with double tanning. So we’re going through faster a little bit. Is. You gotta tell your story. You gotta talk about it. You gotta learn something that you, Oh, you’re good at it.

So you’re a graphic designers start doing graphic design, designing classes, like get into the habit of how do you talk about it and how do you teach about it on your share? And then you will get into the rhythm of like, Oh, this is how you do it. Um, if you’re on a team right now, Sheriff up to your CMO and to the team here and what we achieved this week and share that as an update.

So you realize what it takes to do to your executive team or the board, if that’s what you’ll be doing one day. So it’s not necessary that you do wait for all these things to happen. When you become a CMO will never happen. You start in whatever role you are today. And start building that and start greeting that as four of your, uh, your learnings.

And that’s how you build your personal brand internally. Now, if you’re good at that, and you want to do that once a month or once a week or something externally, even better, but that’s not something that’s needed and it start internally in your safe place, safe zone, whatever makes sense to you. Maybe join up immunity and do it over there.

Totally cool. Like what you’re doing with university and stuff. So the idea is to get into a habit of doing it. This is the hardest things for marketers to do. And this is one of the biggest reasons why less than 1% will even have a shot at it because they’re invisible.

MK: Yeah, I, it sounded like too, that you would prioritize.
So you talked about personal brand and I see so many folks out there on LinkedIn building up their personal brand, using their personal brand for social selling. So for marketing, but you’re talking about use your personal brand internally point of view internally where you’re constantly talking, teaching and sharing.

With the folks that work alongside you because within that organization, if you’re ever going to be considered for a role to step into the C-suite as a CMO, you’re going to need to have that visibility that you do have thoughts. You do have a point of view and you can take the organization to the next level.

Sangram: Huge huge inflammation, huge gap. I think in most marketers that think we are so, so much focused on our own little area. Um, well, we, it, we got to expand that, and this is the part that is very uncomfortable for people to do. And probably one area that people have too many blinders on, um, and, and holding themselves back to.

And then that’s one area where that needs a lot of encouragement and accountability from others to help you, which is why I would say, well, identify. Um, how you’re going to build your brand one day at a time. It’s not going to happen today. It’s not going to happen tomorrow. It may not even happen in the next six months, but it’s one day just do something on a regular basis.

Keep I keep a swipe file of things that I want to write or think about that’s in my head or do, or I’ve done, or I got accolades from, and I keep it and then I use it. Intermittently on Slack. Oh, that’s the conversation I had. Let me talk about that or use that. So start building in one swipe file to help you recognize what’s working.

What’s not working from a feedback perspective. And then as always like figure it out. It’s a consistent routine because routine that consistency creates massive outcomes. Like what am I going to do to do that? Are you going to Slack? Once a week about what you learning. Are you going to do a video for your company or team or externally?

Um, our weekly, a monthly basis. I didn’t do something about it. So whatever it is, your comfort zone, maybe writing is a comfort zone for somebody, for somebody. It might be videos for somebody. It might be, um, the gap, just having meetings like this and share what that is, whatever does it just like everything else.

This is the part it’s going to make you visible. This is the part that’s going, gonna make it set up.

MK: If you’re a storyteller, this is an easy thing for you to do. If you’re a doer, just add this to your to-do list and you’ll plow through this task. And then if you’re a driver even deep, naturally easy for you to want to talk about the results that you’re achieving.
So it doesn’t matter what type of a superpower you have. It’s just a matter of committing to actually doing this and your own permutation of this will just naturally emerge because of the super power you have.

Sangram: Housing percent, thousand percent. You’re so here’s the formal again? Um, this is good MKB. We double time together on this one.
So that was really cool. Um, and so this is your whole thing together, and if you were to say, well, how do I put things in it? So the question I get all the time is, where do I start? And I would just say, can look at this formula and imagine just riding in here, like, okay, I’m a dreamer. Um, and it did focus on the metrics.

This is not something I’m good at. I need to build a relationship with the CFO. That’s something, uh, that that totally is left fields out of my comfort zone. I need to start doing that and I’m going to publish something on a, on a weekly basis. That’s an example of how simple you can keep these things and not let all right.

So you don’t have to do everything all in one day. You don’t have to build all these, the relationship in the next week. You don’t have to know your business soup to nuts, uh, necessarily in a, in a months time, it’s a matter of just taking consistent steps and many boil it down. It’s truly not a whole lot.

When you say this quarter. This is what I want to do and do it because that’s the differentiator from you and the people who get 1%?

MK: Phenomenal. Okay. So now the question I’m gonna wanna know is how can I get more of this? Like, this is so impactful and you’ve filled this in such a simplistic format that it’s attainable for me.
Like there, this is a very approachable way to refine the skills that you’re trying to develop. Well, what can I get more? I’m a little greedy. How can I, how can I work or partner with you or members of your team to continue to refine this and also have my accountability squad.

Sangram: Yeah. And that’s, that’s good.I’m glad she asked that MK, you know, um, like about four months ago, uh, right in the midst of all the COVID and everything is like, um, I started this, uh, community called peak community. And in that we have two specific groups. We have an emerging CMO group who go through a course like this, and then they have about right now about twenty-five emerging CMOs.

We’re all meeting by weekly. And they, and then we bring in a CMO in there and we bring in somebody else and they all are able to focus on, okay, I need to get better at metrics. Oh, here’s another emerging CMO. Who’s not, he’s really good at metrics. So they’re partnering up and learning together. Um, so every other week they get together and do things like that.

And then there’s a CMO group that we have. So people who are CMOs to get better at being a CMO. And they are, they are starting to have again, another Bible, please sessions for them to get read brand or storytelling, or how do they report to their board and things like that. So both of those groups have become really fun to be part of.

So if anybody’s interested, they can just, uh, DM me, uh, on LinkedIn. And I can share more because it’s still very much invite. Only. It doesn’t have any vendors. Doesn’t have any sales people. It’s a very learning focused. Thing that just meets every other week talking about it.

MK: Fantastic like, well, Sangram thank you so much for going through this double time and dropping all the knowledge bombs here. This has been another episode of office hours where I don’t know about you. My mind was blown of all the really impactful things that I can start implementing right now after we end today’s obsession.

Thank you again, so much Sangram, and we hope to have you on maybe another episode of office hours where we talk about, I don’t know, working on your internal brand, but there’s, there’s a lot of opportunity for us. Big time. Let me know MTN. Thank you. And thanks everybody who could join in and should share their feedback and thoughts.

Excellent. Thank you. Bye everyone. .

October 27, 2020
Sara P.

Hiya! I'm Sara and I joined Alyce in February of 2020 as the Brand Content Manager. If you have any feedback at all on what you've read, heard, or watched from us please let me know! When I'm not doing some sort of physical activity, you can find me reading David Sedaris, listening to a true crime podcast, or re-watching the same show over and over again on Netflix.


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How to Become a CMO with Sangram Vajre

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