My time at Bizo was likely the most important experience of my life—I mourn it like I would a death in the family. 7.5 years ago, when they were around 15 people, I joined Bizo as the first product guy. We grew the company to 150 wonderful “Bizonians,” became experts in B2B marketing, and developed a product that was beyond what the market thought it needed. Together, we willed ourselves and our customers to success, and along the way—professionally and personally—we became more than many of us thought we might become.
We had to rise up. There was no choice. It was on us. That was certainly the case for me and, as I said before, it was a life-changing experience.
When LinkedIn acquired us 2.5 years ago it was beyond thrilling. That LinkedIn liked us and our creation so much they paid $175 mill to acquire us!?! Wow. Heady times. Unfortunately, my time at LinkedIn was largely difficult for me. Don’t get me wrong—LinkedIn is an amazing company filled with many wonderful people, and it is on a meaningful mission. There is no other company I would have wanted to have been acquired by, and I learned a lot at LinkedIn. I’m grateful to all of the people who brought us in, cared for us, and made us part of the LinkedIn family.
But something was missing.
Starting over 6 months ago, I threw myself into my search with the same intensity as with my product work. I looked, I talked, I read, investigated, dug, thought, talked to myself out loud… What am I good at? What exactly were the circumstances at Bizo that made me fly? What do I want for my family? I networked. I told my story to everyone I could. I found so many great people along they way who wanted to help—I have a spreadsheet of 75 people I talked to. I felt energized at times, and defeated when I wasn’t finding things. I went deep with 13 companies—meeting the CEO and all of the execs, calling on customers, competitors’ customers, and prospects.
It became clear to me that I needed to get back into the daily knife fight of a startup. I need the adrenaline. For the sake of my mental health, it’s critical that I am learning, creating, innovating, and delivering new and improved customer value, and value to my team every day. I need to exercise a full spectrum of muscles all of the time. I know for certain that the people—including our customers—and our journey together are the most important things, period. When I am in the right situation, I radiate energy and bring the most value to the people around me. My mind runs at high levels of efficiency. My life circumstances have made me a start up guy.
I found that I wanted to be in a company of about 30 people. I needed to meet a CEO who I felt great about working with, I wanted to see a room full of bright faces excited and passionate about what they are doing, they all had to be in the city, and I needed to be with them to give and get energy every day. And I knew that I wanted an expanded role beyond product.
I found a company called BrightFunnel, and I got to know them. I began to see these things in them. From my time at Bizo, I know the guys at Crosslink who lead their A round. I called their customers and realized how much I love the super sharp B2B marketers, like Heather Sutherland at Cloudera. Thanks for talking with me, Heather. I saw a BrightFunnel demo and was stunned—they bring the center of truth to the B2B CMO and CRO. This is where the key answers and decisions around budget, programs, content, companies, personas, sales interactions, pipeline, and revenues are answered. It functions as the core engine room of intelligence, or, as we BrightFunnelers call it, “Revenue Intelligence.”
Immediately, my mind has become active like a jet engine and I can’t turn it off. I wake up every day and wooooosh—it’s on. After 7.5 years in this fight, the things I know about the B2B buyer’s journey and the related technologies just start talking to me and I see many ways this can go. This is something I’ve wanted to build since back at Bizo and then at LinkedIn, and it is clearly where all B2B marketers need to progress on their maturity continuum.
This is why I am here at BrightFunnel. So where do we go from here?
Dreaming is core to my creative process. I take all of the customer, market, and competitive knowledge we’re continually processing, and I dream on that.
Dreaming is a wonderful tool—it removes the constraints placed by perceived limitations and stretches ideas. Just try it: What do we want for our customers? How do we make them successful? What do we want for ourselves as a company, and how can we bring the resources of our people and our talents to bear? When I dream with these questions in mind, I start to see the future outcomes and experiences. I talk to our people and customers about these outcomes, and then together we can begin to see around the corners, beyond what most people think they need to what they don’t yet know is possible. This is my process, and now, I am dreaming this way at BrightFunnel.
And so one final note to B2B marketers: If you are not talking to my team, you should be. I invite you to come dream with us, because if my history repeats itself, we’ll definitely be realizing those dreams.