Embracing a Beginner's Mind as a First-Time CMO with Coalition's Dylan Steele

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This is a podcast episode titled, Embracing a Beginner's Mind as a First-Time CMO with Coalition's Dylan Steele. The summary for this episode is: <p>Dylan Steele is wrapping up his first month as CMO at Coalition. Prior to joining Coalition, Dylan was VP of Brand &amp; Marketing Strategy at Splunk, and before that he was VP of Platform Product Marketing at Salesforce (where he and Tricia met). In this episode, Tricia and Dylan talk about why Dylan wanted to make the jump from VP to CMO, how the roles are different, his approach to his first 30 days on the job, what he's learned so far, and his advice for aspiring CMOs. </p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Tricia and JJ on Twitter @triciagellman @dylanrsteele @DriftPodcasts</p><p><br></p><p>If you want even more marketing leadership insights, sign up for Tricia's newsletter: https://www.drift.com/insider/learn/newsletters/chief-marketing-officer/</p>
Getting A Well Rounded Experience in the Three Pillars of Marketing
01:50 MIN
Take Advantage of Opportunities by Being Curious
00:54 MIN
Recognizing What You Bring to the Table
00:44 MIN
What Helped Dylan Take On a CMO Role
01:30 MIN
Getting Up To Speed in Dylan's First Month as CMO
02:14 MIN
Nurturing Long-term Relationships
00:36 MIN
Having a Beginner's Mind
01:06 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome, everybody, and thank you for coming back to another episode of CMO Conversations. Today, I have with me Dylan Steele, who I met at Salesforce years ago but is now the CMO at Coalition. Dylan, maybe you can introduce yourself and give a little background on how we met each other and how we've kind of stayed in touch over the years.

Dylan Steele: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. Really excited to join you. I think I've just begun. I'm in my first month of CMO at Coalition, so this will be an intro for folks on how to deal with their first month. But you and I met at our time at Salesforce together where I worked in product marketing for six, seven years in a variety of roles, focused on the Salesforce platform tools for IT and developer security and the like. You're in demand general but together we got to do a lot of great work, some fun traveling, good socializing, and you've really been a nice part kind of a mentor and board of directors that I think about my marketing career or have a crazy burning question that I don't know how to answer or sometimes just need a sounding board and someone to bug. So really appreciate it that we've been able to keep up the relationship over the years.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I think it's great. And one day, maybe we'll work together again. That's always one of the reasons I poke you, but I haven't won yet-

Dylan Steele: Absolutely.

Speaker 1: ...to get you over into my new team. So I don't know, one day, but hopefully it'll be a very successful CMO career as well, and this is just the beginning. So I'm excited to see how that continues to grow for you as well. In the podcast, we spend a lot of time talking about the future of marketing, the relationship of marketing and sales. You mentioned your personal board of directors and that we had an episode where we spoke about that with a different CMO. So several topics that we've talked on here, there, and other ways, but today I think what we want to talk about is like a little bit of your journey, right? We've talked and I've had multiple product marketers. I think product marketers are emerging as one of the really good hotbeds for CMOs because they touch across so much of the business, but I think it's newer because 20 years ago, people didn't even know why they needed a product marketer. So maybe you can talk about like, okay, you were a product marketer, but then actually you left Salesforce, you went to Splunk and you didn't do product marketing.

Dylan Steele: Yeah, that's exactly right. So I loved my time as a product marketer and being at Salesforce, it certainly was an opportunity to sit at the intersection of so many different parts of the business. And this is why I think a lot of people who come from product marketing have a really good grasp of different facets of marketing because you often sit at the intersection of product of sales, you need to think about distilling the message, you have to have some grounding in the end user, and the customer, and the buyer. So it just really is a chance to get a really well- rounded experience both in the business performance and fundamentals, but also in the different elements of marketing. So for me, that was... I feel so lucky to show up at Salesforce at a time to be a part of an organization where there was just world- class marketers and product marketers to learn from. And when I started, first of all, I was just so happy to be in product marketing. I saw a long career that could have continued down that path for quite some time. CMO is not on my radar, but as I got up there, I spent six or seven years within the same team, really learning the different facets and moving through those different functions, even within product marketing, facing some of the fields, facing some of the product more directly. I really started to say," Oh, this might be interesting to take this and apply it to a broader set of opportunity." So when I left Salesforce, it was somewhat intentional that I wanted to kind of jump out of product marketing into another one of those adjacent groups. And I think about kind of three pillars of marketing, product marketing, some of the corporate marketing, which can include brand, PR, sometimes content and others, and then demand gen. By the time I jumped to Splunk, I jumped into a more corporate marketing face role. And I knew at that point that I would have good grounding in two of those three big buckets in marketing. And I knew enough to ask the right questions and have people like you to guide me on some demand gen that I felt like I could round out the third.

Speaker 1: So you have this idea that you want to round out your career skillset, but you didn't want to be a CMO. So at the time, what were you thinking was the reason to round out your career? Just because it would be interesting or what were you thinking was going to be the value of being broader?

Dylan Steele: I just felt like I had a lot to learn. I thought that there was more to learn before I jump in that role, and you always want to set yourself up for success. And I also didn't know what I didn't know, so you go into corporate marketing, and there's so much to learn on brand. We were going through a massive category creation exercise, which kind of spans message in brand, and I thought I could bring some value there. There certainly is a ton to learn on creating great content. I got to lead a community marketing team for a little while, and I got to build on the back of some incredible work that had already been done at Splunk to build a user community that was really service- based. So I just felt like there was another chapter of learning and I can really bring my skillset to the next level by taking one more jump. And the reality was, it was totally true. I learned so much in my time. I think it's made me so much better position to launch into this role. And also, you can succeed out of the ecosystem of a really big company where everything's all formalized. It gave me a little bit more grounding that," Hey, maybe this works. Okay, I've got two companies under my belt. I think I know enough to thrive in the next one."

Speaker 1: Yeah. And so when you were at Splunk, how big was Splunk? Because you were there pre- IPO or was it post-IPO?

Dylan Steele: No, Splunk had IPO already, but they were really going... They were launching into the next phase of growth as they accelerated, as they moved some of their product suite from on- prem to cloud, and so it was a really transformational time at the company. And, the marketing team was doubling in size, the company was going from already 2000 plus employees. And by the time I left three years later, they were nearly 7, 000. So massive step function and growth and much like I learned a lot about that at Salesforce, where you go," Okay, whatever we're building 12 to 18 months from now, ain't going to work anymore because there's all these new people and new processes." So it was just that opportunity to build and rebuild and learn as you go. So it was not a small company, but it was a chance to apply what I'd learned at... Salesforce went from 4, 000 or 5, 000 to 30,000 by the time I left and who knows 50,000 now. So all a matter of managing yourself through those different magnitudes of growth and a little bit of hanging on for dear life.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think hypergrowth inaudible Drift's a hypergrowth company, and we see the same thing. And I think it also... The con of hypergrowth is that you're holding on for dear life in your job probably everyday just because things are happening so fast, and there's so much change that you're having to manage through, but at the same time it creates tons of opportunity. And I think it's cool that you're describing the different things you did within product marketing, the different things you then did in corporate marketing, and the both of it and how you're able to deal with that along the way. So, to me, that's one of the fun part of it.

Dylan Steele: Absolutely. The growth creates tons of opportunity for everyone inside the organization. And I also joined intentionally to learn a broader skillset, to be in the room where it happens, where the decisions get made on broader resource allocation, budgeting, some of the thinking that happens there, so there was an opportunity to do that. I also took advantage of opportunities like mentorship or even what we call the reverse mentorship opportunities, so I did some mentoring of folks in different groups. I also raised my hand and said," I'm not an expert in demand gen, I might want to do reverse mentorship where I work with some employees in marketing, who might've owned some of our marketing operations, some of our actual inbound channels and others." And the reverse mentoring, I would just meet with them and ask them a bunch of questions, why they made certain decisions, how they decided over one technology versus another. And so I came out of that with a lot more knowledge than I had going in just based on pure curiosity. My background is actually I studied journalism and anthropology, so showing up and meeting people I've never met before and asking them questions is built- in to the way I've been trained, so I brought that to the table as well. And there's some really delightful and helpful people who were willing to teach me.

Speaker 1: I think that's a good lesson for people to take away in the podcast is really, one, like at Drift. One of the reasons I think that Drift has been a successful company is that we have these leadership principles to align everybody, and one of them is always be a curious learning machine. If you're in a hyper growth company, it is not going to be the same today as it was yesterday, so you need to really think about that change, but I think your MO has basically been just be a curious learning machine and pick up the tools, pick up the questions. And I think that's great because you're not going to take on a new role and have it be the same as your old role, right? I mean, that's why it's called the different role. So I think it sets you up well, so that's a good lesson.

Dylan Steele: Absolutely. Being curious is always helpful, asking why and being willing to admit what you don't know and show up to the table, and say," Hey, I'm here to learn," has served me well, and I think it's a great takeaway for a lot of people.

Speaker 1: Yeah, that's great. So now you had no interest in being a CMO when you were at Salesforce. I think also like Salesforce CMO is like a totally different animal than, let's say, even Splunk, but especially now where you are. And so then, somewhere along the way, you have this curious mind, you learn things in corporate marketing, you're expanding your skillset, you're learning from this reverse mentoring, you decide you want to put your hat in the ring and decide to be a CMO. What was it that sparked in your mind to say," Maybe now is the time, and I am interested in this"?

Dylan Steele: I think for me, it was always you're watching people on how they're not just their careers, but I'm watching how people make decisions, and saying," Hmm, that's interesting. I wonder why they picked to allocate resources that way," or," I wonder why they staffed that person in that role or they positioned themselves." And so, my entire career progression both at Salesforce and beyond was always like,"Hmm, I probably would have done that a little differently," or," Oh, what could I learn from them?" And that kind of... At each step, through my time at Salesforce and beyond it was an opportunity to go," Hmm, that's an interesting opportunity. How would I have thought through that problem?" And by the time I got to Splunk, I think it was just the opportunity to think about resource allocation and have a seat at the table in the business. I mean, I think about CMO not just in terms of delivering pipeline, helping with positioning and all the messaging and fun work you get to do, but if you're doing it right, you're having a strategic seat at the table and guiding meaningful business decisions. And that really appealed to me to be able to ask a whole new set of why questions and kind of continue the curiosity outside of marketing. So, of course, my realm of ownership is within marketing, but now I get to sit at the table with some of the other business stakeholders. So, that was always appealing to me. I'd done some work in politics and public sector. So maybe someday after CMO, I'll go back in that space. Who knows where the curiosity will lead, but super excited about certainly this opportunity.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think one of the things that I've spoken about with others on other podcasts is like this difference of the VP versus the CMO and how you really have to have that passion to let go of being the person who's the expert in one part of marketing to pick up some of the sort of like cross- functional," I'm a leader of a business." And it's interesting to hear you say like that, the actual reason that you did it because a lot of people I think jump into CMO, and they go," Oh my God, I'm not doing marketing. I have all this other stuff I have to do."

Dylan Steele: Yeah. I can speak only from a month's worth of experience that I know the valuable talk about is how to land in that first month and the questions you ask and the surprises. But I'll say, I went in with eyes wide open that there are functions within marketing that are even so disparate. As a CMO, the first you have to have the curiosity to really get your hand around all those different individual pieces, which are the work on positioning and brand is really valuable and important when you think about what you're putting through your demand engine, but they're really different skillsets, different brain powers that need to come together. So there's some curiosity you need just to manage that. And then, there's the work to engage with the rest of the business, to educate them on what marketing is and does, bring your CEO along for the ride, probably the board and others. So, there is a whole other set of work that is involved in a day to day that I'm just starting to learn about and cobble the pieces together to be able to service the business.

Speaker 1: Yeah, so let's back up for a minute. So you realized," Hey, I want to be a part of making these business decisions. I want to learn more what that's like. I'm definitely ready to put myself out there to be a CMO." How did you actually go from being a VP in corporate marketing to the CMO role? Did you talk to recruiters? Did you just network with other CMOs? How did that process work for you?

Dylan Steele: It was a little bit of both. I was not in a race out the door from my last role. In fact, there was a ton of opportunity and I believe that Splunk's an amazing trajectory. And so that kind of put me in a place of like," I'm not in a rush to go anywhere." But even early on in my time there, I said to the CMO and my bosses that this is a place I'd like to go to, and I want to build that skillset. That allowed me to be able to get the breadth to ask the questions. Over time, I met a number of recruiters who, I think, are specialized in that space. And I've talked to others in my network who I said," Eventually, this is something I would be interested in pursuing." And so as people reached out to CMOs, I think a lot of the interest goes from the recruiters to existing CMOs. And every once in a while, a few of them would kick some roles that they thought would be relevant to me, role specifically that were looking for someone strong in product marketing or corporate marketing, where I really had that sweet spot. So there's plenty of dating involved having conversations with different companies and different recruiters. And because I was in such a good place, it was never a," I'm in a rush. I'm going to jump to the first person who offers me the CMO role." It was really a chance to be intentional and say," I want to make sure I'm moving towards an opportunity, not away from a situation that I was in." So I was lucky in that regard. So a good number of conversations and networks matter, keeping up with folks matter, having friends and connections, they certainly helped as I began the journey.

Speaker 1: Yeah. That's great. And so then what was it about Coalition that you felt like was the right place for you after having sort of these dating and drinks and coffees and everything else that happens in this whole recruiter relationship building phase?

Dylan Steele: Yeah, it's a handful of pieces that all came together. One was just the culture of the company and getting to know the CEO and the leadership team because I know we're going to be in it for incredible opportunity, incredible growth, hard things, good things. It's going to be fun sometimes and not fun other times. And if they aren't people that you want to be shoulder to shoulder with and spend that time together and enjoy it, and know that you can have kind of open meaningful conversations that wasn't even something I wanted to entertain. So I certainly met with companies where the opportunity from a business perspective was there, but the culture fit and the relationship, I couldn't get a great read on it. So this one, the relationships were first, the team was performing well. There's a great team of marketers. It wasn't a build it from zero. So there's opportunity in the business. I didn't want to have to build. If you're asking me to build the MarTech stack up from literally nothing, I'll tell you that I'm not the person to do that coming from products and corporate marketing. So some of those elements were in place that would make it easier to kind of move from a position of my strength under the business. And then a third thing, I'll say, is I went through a big exercise on round category creation at Splunk, and we were lucky enough to work with Christopher Lochhead who wrote Play Bigger, literally wrote the book on category. And he helped me think about companies that have the opportunity to become category queens or kings, and how to think about scoping them, the rate of growth in those organizations. And even just, there's some minimum bars that you have to hit to even be a candidate to become a category king or queen and launch yourself from that kind of minimum level of growth. So I was also kind of hunting for a company where that level of growth I could see it and identify it, and I knew it had a great trajectory. So, it was people, it was opportunity, and it was a really, really strong foundation of marketing that was in place. So I could jump in with my strengths and really help and add value from, I think I hope the first month.

Speaker 1: I love what you're saying because I truly believe the person who's a right CMO for a company at a specific time period, et cetera, may not be the same person at a different time, but also doesn't mean that, that person's a great CMO for another company. And it's a mix of what the company needs, but it's also a mix of you setting your criteria. And I think that's also another great takeaway for people, like," It sounds like you did a lot of self- reflection. What are my strengths? What am I bringing to the table? Okay then, what are my weaknesses?" Like," I don't want to go to a company that needs a whole tech stack build out because that's not my thing. I'm probably going to fail there or it's going to be super, super hard. It's not going to be fun." So recognizing those things so that you can measure the opportunities against that list, I think, is really important. And it sounds like you did a great job of it. And I think it's also the reason why if you are in the market to be a CMO or you're looking to change companies, it takes a long time. It's not like," Oh, okay, I want to have this job. I'm going to have like five conversations and then it's done. I mean, like searching for CMOs, it takes companies a long time, but then if you're the CMO looking for a different role, it also takes a long time.

Dylan Steele: Absolutely. You want to make sure it's the right fit. And I think that's general advice, even if you're not looking for a CMO role, to find the right opportunity in a job search, you were in the middle of the great resignation and everyone has been so cooped up and associates working at home and the frustrations and stresses that come with that to their individual company. But I would say, again, I'm probably reiterating previous advice. Make sure you're running towards something, not away from something which is make sure you're really picking that right opportunity where you, as an individual, can thrive.

Speaker 1: So outside of like," Okay, I know I'm a great product marketer," outside of," I picked up some great brand and category creation," are there other things that you think sort of set you up to take on the CMO role?

Dylan Steele: Yeah. I think I led a larger team. My team continued to grow at Splunk and certainly at Salesforce. So a lot of the job is not," Hey, I've got the skills, the hard skills." It's," Hey, I've had an opportunity to develop some of the soft skills, build an organization, and identify opportunities for growth, and really nurture and foster talent." So, you can imagine my team at Salesforce started at there was two of us. Ironically, I think it was myself, there was three, myself and Sarah Franklin, who's now the CMO of Salesforce. So good on her, quite a journey she's had and one other really great marketer. And by the time I was gone, I left, the team was 50 people and I was running half of it, 20 plus people. And so it was kind of the same at Splunk. I took a leap of faith into Splunk as a team of one and just said," That was going backwards from a team of 25. And that was all about learning." So I jumped in with the vote of confidence from the CMO and the CEO and the head of sales to say," This is important. And I had an opportunity to build, to track talent, grow, work, partner with folks, folks who eventually joined my team. And there was really an opportunity to focus on the relationship, building, understand how it could nurture people, build that talent and kind of create some long- term career paths. So in addition to just understanding the basis of marketing, how much of your job is spent actually helping the people on the talent do what they do best every day and putting them in good situations to succeed. So, that certainly was another really key component as I thought about moving onto a new organization, and I think one that's critical if you're going to be in a leadership role at any company.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think that that's really key, and I think we'll talk about what have you been doing in your first month. But just right before we get there, you have this idea of what you thought it would be to be a CMO. Now, you're only a month in, which is super fresh still, but is there anything that's really surprised you of, like," Oh, I didn't realize this would be my role," or just something that's different than you thought right away?

Dylan Steele: Oh, that's a great question. And so far, maybe because I did my due diligence, I haven't been totally surprised. There's a people management aspect. I'm getting to know the rest of the leadership team working on comms and the outbound communications work has been really important and intentional. And spending time with the CEO, understanding his priorities, because ultimately I'll live and die based on what he, what he wants us to deliver through the business. And there are a lot of different ways that marketing can deliver. So I haven't shown up and been totally shocked and surprised by anything. So maybe that's a positive. I'll think on that and see if there's anything that went well" whoa," but so far so good, but who knows what's around the corner tomorrow?

Speaker 1: Yeah. It sounds like you wandered like a robust assessment of what is it that you think will be the right role for you. And then, two, the process was like you described it as dating, so it wasn't sort of," Hey, just pick me, I'm in line to be on the little neighborhood's softball team," or whatever, but so I think it sounds like you went through a lot, so maybe there won't be as many surprises. So now in your first month, what have you been doing to even get up to speed on the business? Because I think that's one of the biggest gaps. You can interview for sort of what you think it's going to be and what the product is and how the business functions, but you never really get that in the interview process in depth.

Dylan Steele: Yeah. I spent a good bit of my first two weeks where I pretty much dedicated learning, learning the business, not just learning in marketing terms, and Coalition is a very different business. I've spent the good bit of the last 10 years in B2B SAS- type businesses. Coalition is a really unique business in that they brought together some pieces of insurance and cybersecurity into kind of a new type of risk management and insurance offering. And the way they do that is they've really partnered these pieces together through offering you cybersecurity insurance and then actively monitoring your exposure all the time from the moment you buy the insurance to any... Hopefully, you don't have a claim but any moment you have a claim. And what that means is there's a thousand different terminology in the way an insurance that I don't know. And there's ways that insurance works through brokers, which is all through a channel, I don't know. So I really spent the first two weeks learning about brokers, the insurance industry, reading books, asking people, all the dumb questions that you might be afraid to ask, just to try to learn and understand. And that that was an investment in just the future of my success in the business. They also had set up a good onboarding program and path to help teach people because they brought people from tech and people from insurance together. There's knowledge gaps on both. So there's a whole bunch of just learning the business. And then once you start to learn the players, you kind of learn what levers are important to the business." Okay, well, how do we move revenue?"" Oh, we don't actually move it by building a ton of relationships with businesses who own the policies. We do it through those broker relationships. And there's... I can go down this rabbit hole forever as I've learned the wholesale brokers and the retail brokers, but I know that's not interesting to everyone. But if you don't understand the levers of the business, it's going to be really hard for you to be successful. So a ton of the beginning was just learning the actual business. The rest is getting to know the team both. There's a great marketing team that's in place, that's doing incredible work, content, product marketing, the growth team. They've got some great agencies that are supporting them in design. So getting to know that team while also meeting the individuals who are leaders across the business. So a lot of work early on and trying not to have too many opinions early on, I think, is also really valuable, right? You're in listening mode. You're not going to move anything in those first two weeks. So what can you absorb, sponge it all up, and try not to push on anything too hard.

Speaker 1: I think that's great advice, especially when you're trying to learn. And especially if you're being curious and you're a lot of questions you can come across as being critical, but really projecting that you're trying to learn that you don't know. And that in a way, they're being vulnerable. I think it's super helpful for building those relationships as well. So you've been learning. And then now, where have you decided that you need to spend your focus?

Dylan Steele: Yeah. I think there's some really interesting opportunities in the business as we create a little bit more of kind of an inbound engine. I mean, a lot of the work that's been done thus far has been outreached to those brokers. We know who they are. That's a great thing. It's kind of a... It's not a small community, but we know they're all registered with states across the country, so we kind of have become acquainted with them. And early on, and I think in a startup life cycle, first, you just get the name out there and you do some basic outreach and people come... And the low- hanging fruit kind of come and they get to know your product. But now, we're kind of evolving in that stage where you know that early outreach maybe isn't quite as effective or we're thinking about building long- term relationship with brokers who is isn't necessarily folks who're going to jump jobs day to day, year to year. They're going to be in these jobs for a long time. So we're starting to think about nurturing long- term relationships with those brokers over decades. Some of that has to do with building maybe some more knowledge, resources, and inbound engine that can partner with some of the outbound work that we're doing, and there's probably some opportunity around categories. We think about the market size and the company growing and expanding people's minds of thinking about what insurance can be. I think we all have a perception of how insurance works. You buy a thing, you put it on the shelf and you leave it there until you have a problem. And then, oh, crap, you take it down off the shelf and yeah, you hope you don't have to use it. And so this is really a new opportunity because you buy this thing, you buy the cybersecurity insurance through Coalition and it's actively monitoring. So we may be sending you updates like," Don't... There's a patch that needs to happen. Did you know about this specific type of technology running? We'd like you to update it. If you migrate from this tool, this tool you'll be safer, et cetera. So it's just there's some retraining, I think, we're going to get to do for the end consumer, the policy holder and the brokers that this is actually a new way to think about insurance. And there's a bunch of longer- term exercises. I think we'll go through to explore that together.

Speaker 1: It sounds really fun, plus it sounds like a mix of your job is not just going to be sort of the acquisition retention of your customers but of interfacing in a way and projecting message to their customers.

Dylan Steele: Yeah, absolutely. It's a business of people and certainly relationships that's paired with the numbers that support the insurance. So that maybe is a nice change after spending 10 years marketing to more technical audiences who don't like to be bugged quite as much and are maybe a little less relationship forward. That's my nice way of putting it. So it's an exciting change.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think that's always interesting. And again, back to being the curious learning machine, it's like you pick up a company and a product that's going in a different persona, different business model, et cetera. There's so many different facets of things that you can learn while having a core foundation of specific skills. So one of those skills you talked about before was," Hey, you took a leap, you went, and you took on a role as blank, you're a team of one, and in the end, you have a large team. Same thing happened at Salesforce. And so now, there was a team at Coalition, but it sounds to me you just talked about inbound. Is that one of the things that you are leveraging is sort of this builder mentality you had before?

Dylan Steele: There is an incredible set of skills within the team already existing. So I think there's a ton of opportunity to kind of thinking... I always say thinking a couple of different time periods. There's probably some six- month work to just be done to continue to keep pace with a business that's really growing rapidly which, again, is a position of strength to be in. I mean, a lot of the work is just keeping up with the business and marketing team and certainly small as the business rapidly accelerate. So part of my goal is to help them manage that constant inflow, but also to build and to bring some people on so that we can get a little, little bit more specificity in the role. My sense is, when you're early on in a startup, a lot of people can wear a lot of hats, which is fun but then you hit them at a level of scale and then you get stretched a little bit more thin. So I think there's an opportunity to bring some people in that allows them to specialize. And then it also allows us to think," Okay, strategically, we've got all this work we've got to do just to keep the wheels on for the next six months," but now we can also take kind of a longer- term view if we're thinking 18 to 24 months even longer, I mean if you're going to build some inbound work or spend time on the website and invest there, you're not going to see those returns and leads tomorrow. So thinking about building that in a long term.000 And part of that is bringing, bringing on the right skills, part of that is just feeling really lucky and thankful that the business is in a position that we can think long term, and I didn't show up and someone didn't say," Where's the leads? Give me the leads tomorrow." That was important as part of my selection criteria, so there's some people to build, there's some skillsets to make sure we focus on. And really, I think about," Is everyone in the business able to do? And in my team, able to do what they're really the best at?" Not 24 hours a day but at least as a portion of their work every week. And if they're not, there's an opportunity there too.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think that that's great. I just think it's fun to watch you grow your career and I think staying in touch as friends, but then also learning from each other in terms of what you're seeing in your job and your function and how you're working with your CMO, your CEO, it's been great. And I'm excited to see how you continue to grow in the CMO role and to check back in with you in three months, in six months, and see what did you think you can accomplish in the first six months and what were you able to or some of the barriers. Yeah, I don't know if you have perspective on how you think you'll map that out.

Dylan Steele: Yeah, absolutely. That's certainly the phase we're in right now. Let's think about the marketing plan and set some of those goalposts and be a little bit aggressive of what maybe we can achieve certainly in the six months, but probably more so in the kind of 18- month time frame and see what's possible. And I tell you, I've talked to all kinds of people, both in the business and outside, right? You and others, as I come into this role, I've really drawn on my network and wealth of knowledge of other people to say," Have you thought about these challenges? What's your mix of inbound, the outbound? And have you partnered with sales teams?" Of course, every company is different but being able to ask those questions to folks and be able to kind of access that network has been super valuable. So we're certainly a month in. Everyone, you're kind of in this phase where everyone's like," Get your quick wins but build your strategic plan and make sure you..." There's all these competing advice that you get. And because we're in a strong position in business performance, I think we can think a little bit more long term in building goals that will help deliver the business over the coming years and help us on that growth trajectory. So I'm certainly more focused on building a plan, aligning people, pulling them out of the day- to- day operational work and thinking about how we get a cumulative effect of everyone kind of coordinating towards a couple larger goals, and then thinking about how we invest. So we're working together to build some of those kind of core components of the plan and then part of that will be education, I think, to the rest of the organization, the sales leaders, the CEO, certainly the product team. As we understand, share what we're going to do and help them understand what we're going to ask them to do as part of the work. So I'm excited.

Speaker 1: Yeah. It's exciting. So we just talked about how you are wrapping up your first month. Typically, when I onboard somebody, we build a 7-, a 30-, a 60- and 90- day plan, and you're wrapping up this month where you probably had a little bit of forgiveness, like," Okay, yeah. It's fine for you to ask questions about how this business works for two weeks," but" Okay, a month and now you're here. We need you to start building a marketing plan." What's your perspective on when you kind of run out of the end of that rope and people are like," Okay, get it done."

Dylan Steele: Yeah. The challenge is a bit weighing. Do I know enough to have a perspective on the business or am I so new that if I make any kind of strategic decision or give any guidance that I'm not going to have the context and you're going to get dismissed out of hand. So we've heard and have talked about before what it's like to have a beginner's mind when it comes to marketing and, really frankly, the business holistically. And the concept of beginner's mind is not to get stuck in patterns of thinking to open yourself up and embrace that beginner's mind. The nice thing about me is I'm a beginner. This is the beginning of my time, so I actually enabled to kind of come up with some outside in perspective. You pay consultants, you pay creative agencies to come in with that fresh look. So rather than pick that beginner's mind and start to make changes right away, I've kept a little list of ideas and observations. And what I do is I've taken those over the first few weeks. And as I come up on a month, I'm looking back on some of those and validating," Okay, what was real? What made sense? What can I totally strike out as a bad idea now that I've understood another construct in the business or another dynamic." And so it's been really nice to even use myself as a little bit of a sounding board. And now, we're starting to bring some of those ideas and spur some conversations with the leadership team, as we think about where we head. So a lot of that is, directionally, what kind of business results do we want to deliver? And how do we think about some of the messaging and category work as we tell the story of what the company is and is going to evolve to become over the coming months and years? So that beginner's mind, you can leverage it yourself and you can actually be a true beginner and extract some value along the way.

Speaker 1: Excellent. I love this idea of the beginner's mind. I love the idea of the curious learning machine and really just embracing the various facets of your business, the various facets of marketing. I think that's one of the things that makes this podcast interesting is that we can talk about so many different things because the role of marketing is so unique. If you think about the role of being a CRO, you have sales. There are definitely nuances of it. You have different sizes of business, but everybody's on a quota. Everybody's trying to make their number. It's very consistent. And I think in our role as a CMO, it's much more complex. You have much more variables in terms of the skills you were saying in demand gen versus product marketing, et cetera. So I think, personally, that's what makes it really interesting, but also it gives us lots of episodes for CMO Conversations. So thank you so much for joining us. Thank you, as listeners, for listening and tuning in to CMO Conversations. If you love this episode, please go back to wherever you download your podcasts and give us a six rating, share with your friends, make sure that you spread the word, and then always you can connect with me in LinkedIn. Feel free to drop me a line. Give comments in this episode. I'm posting here in LinkedIn in terms of maybe other CMOs that you would love to see, other topics you would love us to cover. Dylan, where would people be best to reach out to you? Twitter, LinkedIn?

Dylan Steele: Yeah. LinkedIn is definitely the best or you can email me dylan @ coalitioninc. com.

Speaker 1: Excellent. So thank you, everyone, and hope you have a great 4th of July holiday.


Dylan Steele is wrapping up his first month as CMO at Coalition. Prior to joining Coalition, Dylan was VP of Brand & Marketing Strategy at Splunk, and before that he was VP of Platform Product Marketing at Salesforce (where he and Tricia met). In this episode, Tricia and Dylan talk about why Dylan wanted to make the jump from VP to CMO, how the roles are different, his approach to his first 30 days on the job, what he's learned so far, and his advice for aspiring CMOs.