PRODUCTEA with Leah, Growth & Senior Leadership

Leah Tharin

Honest, unfiltered conversations with the best from tech - spilling the tea about product, growth, and senior leadership topics.

www.leahtharin.com

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Episodes

50: Jamie Gier - The good side of B2B Marketing
Feb 11 2024
50: Jamie Gier - The good side of B2B Marketing
SummaryJamie Gier, - CMO at DexCare and former Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft - and I talk about the importance of understanding the customer and the challenges of marketing in regulated industries. We also touch on the process of learning marketing, the concept of account-based marketing in B2B, and how to connect it to revenue through ROI cases for our customers. The conversation concludes with a focus on relevant outreach and communication concepts with the aid of AI.TakeawaysGood Marketing plays a strategic role in product development, informing product strategy and ensuring a unified voice in the marketplace.Marketing in regulated industries, such as healthcare, requires balancing compliance with innovation and user experience.Learning marketing involves understanding the customer, creating value, and staying up to date with industry trends.Account-based marketing in B2B involves aligning with sales, understanding ideal client profiles, and deploying the right sales and marketing motions. Effective processes and personalization are crucial in marketing and sales.Making the ROI case for customers from Marketing is essential.Chapters06:42 The Importance of Personal Board of Directors12:18 Measuring Marketing Impact16:29 The Role of Marketing in Product Development22:02 The Challenges of Marketing in Regulated Industries38:14 Learning Marketing and Creating Value45:38 Account-Based Marketing in B2B47:30 Effective Processes and Personalization that doesn't feel artificial49:17 Making the ROI Case through Account-based MarketingMy Blog / Newsletter: www.leahtharin.comLinkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leahtharin/Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeahThar#productledgrowthLeah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
49: Peter Walker - Startup funding in 2024, the year of layoffs or recovery?
Feb 4 2024
49: Peter Walker - Startup funding in 2024, the year of layoffs or recovery?
SummaryPeter Walker, Head of Data Insights at Carta discusses with me various aspects of startup funding and investment. We explore the value of small angel investments, the obscurity of startup funding letters, the selectivity of startup advisors, and the potential of angel investments as marketing assets.We also touch on the excitement for the future of startups, the impact of accelerators and venture studios, and the importance of distribution and growth and whether a downround really is such a bad thing.TakeawaysThere is a growing trend of companies exploring non-VC growth paths and aiming to achieve venture-scale outcomes without raising additional funding.The use of startup funding letters, such as Series A and Series B, can obscure the wide variation in funding amounts and create unnecessary pressure for founders.Angel investments can serve as marketing assets for startups, as investors with a strong brand can enhance a company's image.The current generation of startups is building on a higher foundation of knowledge and asking different questions compared to previous years.Chapters13:35 The Shift Towards Non-VC Growth Paths25:24 The Impact of Liquidation Preferences and Equity Education43:52 The Value of Small Angel Investments44:50 The Obscurity of Startup Funding Letters46:14 Angel Investments as Marketing Assets48:02 Excitement for the Future of Startups, Accelerators and Venture StudiosLeah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
48: Eytan Bensoussan - How to get critical things done
Jan 7 2024
48: Eytan Bensoussan - How to get critical things done
Why is ruthless focus the most important skill in B2B, and why is it so hard to get right? As the CEO of a banking service that focuses on the impact of cashflow mismanagement on small businesses, he knows what it means when people only focus on what’s fun to them in a business and the price they pay for that.We talked about the decision to seek VC funding and how he built resilience and dealt with negative emotions in tough times. What it means to him to deliver more value than just being a banking app by building out new channels like a podcast.TakeawaysRuthless prioritization is crucial for productivity and success.Cashflow mismanagement is a major problem for small businesses.Recognize that negative emotions often feel worse and last longer than they are.Creating valuable content and delivering practical knowledge can help businesses establish trust and attract customers.Focus on quality rather than quantity in marketing to ensure relevance and engagement.Timestamps03:18 The Problem of Cashflow Illiteracy in Small Businesses07:58 The Habit of Writing Down Priorities and ruthless prioritization15:03 Mismanagement of unfun tasks in Small Businesses19:37 The Challenges of Financial Management in Early Stages23:08 The Decision to Seek VC Funding32:34 The Importance of Effort and Determination38:01 The Problem of Comparing Self to Others42:09 Balancing Stressful Situations46:27 Managing Negative Emotions48:58 Starting a Podcast and delivering extended value to customers56:36 Quality over Quantity in MarketingLeah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
46: Melissa Kwan - Bootstrap vs VC, Mastering the startup game
Dec 16 2023
46: Melissa Kwan - Bootstrap vs VC, Mastering the startup game
SummaryMelissa Kwan, CEO of eWebinar and serial bootstrapper, discusses the challenges and benefits of bootstrapping a business versus seeking venture capital funding. She is the poster child for urging founders to focus on real customer feedback and paying customers without loading up on VC problems. We discuss the importance of understanding the customer, personal goals and ambitions, the challenges of building and scaling a product, defining success and financial goals, the desire for financial independence, determining the financial number to sleep well, and the value of personal branding and trust.TakeawaysBootstrapping is a lifestyle choice that offers freedom and control over the direction of a business. At the same time, venture capital funding commits a company to a venture-scale outcome and a different lifestyle.The future of tech startups lies in vertical SaaS businesses and smaller, niche solutions that cater to specific markets.Why demo calls and salespeople are becoming less necessary as self-serve options and efficient onboarding processes become more prevalent.Determining the financial number needed to sleep well varies for each individual.Personal branding and trust are valuable assets for entrepreneurs.Writing and building an audience can lead to new opportunities and connections.Timestamps00:00 The Lifestyle Choice of Bootstrapping vs. VC Funding05:17 The Trajectory of eWebinar's Growth09:31 The Challenges of VC Funding and the Importance of Profitability13:51 The Difference Between Media Validation and Market Validation19:35 The Rise of Vertical SaaS and Lifestyle Businesses25:46 The Importance of Analyzing Past Behavior to Predict Future Behavior32:00 The Problem with Demo Calls and the Shift Towards Self-Serve37:06 Determining Pricing and the Value of Respecting Customer's Time45:27 Understanding the Importance of Knowing the Customer46:25 The Challenges of Building and Scaling a Product47:24 Defining Success and Financial Goals48:19 The Desire for Financial Independence50:38 Determining the Financial Number to Sleep Well55:41 The Value of Personal Branding and TrustLeah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
44: Casey Winters - Thinking about your career like a long term investor.
Nov 20 2023
44: Casey Winters - Thinking about your career like a long term investor.
A Journey I’m in the middle of as well: How to transition from senior leadership to taking care of yourself to the moment where you enter again.Casey Winters, ex-CPO Eventbrite, walks through the entire journey and how he thinks about our current markets; our technology is drastically changing while the new distribution channels have not developed yet.Why he is waiting before making high-conviction bets for his career in 2023Timestamps:08:10 Why Casey is stressed out and scared of misalignment13:40 When the company heads in a direction where you don’t see your strengths as a senior leader, but it’s your job to see them through20:12 This company strategy looks like one I’m not part of. How open should I be with my CEO?28:00 Burning bridges on your way out by overthinking about negotiation leverage31:15 Shifting your day to suddenly taking care of your OKRs: physical health and fitness38:15 What deserves the best hours of your day?42:00 How to plan the inevitable return to work: Waiting for the right moment, how to think like an investor about your career.48:10 You don’t have to “understand” everything. But you’ll know when you know enough: technology is changing now, and distribution will change later.53:40 Paid advertising and, with it, SEO getting pressure because of the current technology shift. Do consumer platforms make money from advertising or subscriptions in the future? It will be WILD.62:20 Short tenures: people want to understand the decisions you made in your career, not just how long they were.My Blog / Newsletter: www.leahtharin.comLinkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leahtharin/Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeahThar#productledgrowthLeah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
42: Jason Fried - Finding yourself in business
Nov 4 2023
42: Jason Fried - Finding yourself in business
Jason Fried, Co-founder and CEO of 37signals (Basecamp with a valuation of 100 billion, no really ;D), is one of the most positive, successful, forward-looking people that I got to know. He doesn’t care about retros and dwelling on the past and constantly pulls forward without looking too much at what others might think.This amazing episode ended up being a look into the mind of a successful contrarian who appreciates the beauty of simplicity in business.* Don’t overcomplicate decisions in business* Being confidently wrong about reality is easy when there is no reality to check it against* We’re doing more and more of what we don’t necessarily needTimestamps:06:00 Having a public opinion on things that are not mainstream even if it’s uncomfortable.09:00 Figuring out yourself, and who you really are is never done.12:00 Don’t overcomplicate it, there are fewer wrong or right decisions than you think. Decide and run with it.17:45 Double down on whatever works, don’t do post-mortems, retros…20:55 Is developing faster and faster really what we need?28:15 Culture and bad goal setting36:33 Most decisions are based on intuition46:25 Customers are always trying to make progress and that won’t change49:30 VC money vs. BootstrappingJason Fried’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jason-fried/Jasons Blog: https://world.hey.com/jason37Signals.com: https://37signals.com/My Blog / Newsletter: www.leahtharin.comLinkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leahtharin/Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeahThar#productledgrowthLeah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
40: Andrew Davies - Monetization, Pricing & Growth straight from the CMO at Paddle
Oct 24 2023
40: Andrew Davies - Monetization, Pricing & Growth straight from the CMO at Paddle
Andrew Davies, CMO at Paddle, on the latest learnings on monetization and pricing. A topic that is still underserved because almost no one has good, conclusive data about it. Paddle does, and Andrew is sharing a lot of actionable advice on:- Willingness to pay- Changing monetization often- How to not incentivize anyone the wrong wayOne of my favorite episodes to date!Timestamps:06:20 Insights from the latest pricing report, analyzing outliers that “make it”09:00 Having access to one of the biggest data stacks about monetization and how Paddle structured itself as a PLG business step-by-step12:45 How to figure out how much you should charge for your product?19:45 How to figure out “willingness to pay”. Cuddling with Chaos24:00 Between Acquisition, Retention, and Monetization…  Few companies are getting pricing right. Those that change it often have an 82% better ARPU30:40 How do you get sales on board to play along to be okay with changing monetization36:00 “We make sure there is no incentive for anyone in the company to get a customer on the phone over self-serving, including sales”40:55 Getting payment methods, currency, and regional acceptance right.44:30 We are moving away from the “VC funded or dead” dream.50:15 What does it feel like to be really “successful” and not to spiral “getting there”54:00 Having no clue what you are doing is an opportunity, not a weakness to cover58:45 Trends: Customers want everything faster and cheaper.Leah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
39: Brian Donohue - How to handle the untameable beast of AI products at Intercom
Sep 30 2023
39: Brian Donohue - How to handle the untameable beast of AI products at Intercom
This episode gave me a lot of peace of mind. Intercom is dealing with the exact same problems that we all have when building around and with AI.Estimations are impossible and things that are feeling impossible are possible the day after. Brian sat together with me to talk about it all including Intercom’s coming-of-age story and how they look at customer service through this new distorting lense of AI and Machine learning that is rocking our boat.It’s a great learning piece on anything product and leadership.Season 3 of the ProducTea: We spill the tea on how to Go to Market through Product-led Sales and Product-led Growth in B2B and the realities of senior leadership.Timestamps:06:30 What makes Intercom so special, and why is good customer service so difficult?11:50 Tieing business and technology together, while AI is making quantum leaps from unuseable to “this is really good”18:19 We are all working in a playground of opportunities that is very hard to get under predictable control25:30 I have no idea how long this entire project might take. Days or months. No idea31:00 Unpredictability of your output in product, you only know when you have it36:00 Outcome-driven goals when outcomes are impossible to define?44:00 How to build an innovative product inside a large organization by creating an artificial micro-market52:30 We still don’t know exactly what AI displaces and it won’t. Support vs. Replacement and the resulting uncertainty.Brians’ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-d-2450192/Brians' Twitter: https://twitter.com/brian_donohueLeah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
38: Mike Pilawski - Overcoming your doubts through first principle thinking
Sep 24 2023
38: Mike Pilawski - Overcoming your doubts through first principle thinking
Season 3 of the ProducTea: We spill the tea on how to Go to Market through Product-led Sales and Product-led Growth in B2B and the realities of senior leadership.Mike used to be my manager and quickly became one of my most important mentors through the years. In this very personal episode with a lot of inside stories, we talk about it all. From experiences at Smallpdf where rapid scaling pains set in and how we experienced them from the perspective of the CPO - him, and me - the core product.Also: the concept of first principles thinking: Nokia’s prescient but uncapitalized predictions of smartphones. How to localize products and explore personal growth strategies, the importance of connecting wisdom, managing self-expectations, and how to move on from having chips on your shoulder.Timestamps:06:30 Reinventing yourself and companies when you hit a specific size10:30 Our journey at Smallpdf, everything burns and scales at the same time15:55 First principles thinking is hard to learn but necessary so you can create your own frameworks.22:14 Nokia predicted the iPhone and Android before they happened. And it didn’t help them.26:50 Why Product-led Growth is not the same problem in B2B as it is in B2C29:40 Aligning Value capture with the value you create. Pricing at Typeform32:15 Lokalise and getting shaken up by the current AI technology disruption when localizing your product in different markets42:20 How to learn and grow personally while thinking “I don’t belong here49:43 Having the ability to connect wisdom instead of learning everything yourself57:53 We get angry at things because we don’t match our own expectations62:25 Having a chip on your shoulder… and moving on from it.67:45 Waiting too long to reward yourself for specific achievements.Connect!Mike’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pilawski/Leah’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leahtharin/Leah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
36: David Yockelson - How to get plg RIGHT in B2B
Sep 9 2023
36: David Yockelson - How to get plg RIGHT in B2B
Season 3 of the ProducTea: We spill the tea on how to Go to Market through Product-led Sales and Product-led Growth in B2B and the realities of senior leadership.I followed David’s succinct learnings as a Gartner Analyst around PLG for quite some time and you’ll get to know why. He has a way with words. Talking about PLG in a B2B context usually lacks nuance and tactical tips.Not with David, we touched on so many different topics from interactive demos to the most common misconceptions when thinking about PLG and ultimately how to marry it to your sales department.How you can think about ungating your product without giving everything away for free?Timestamps:05:05 Being demanding in business while having a calm outside07:05 When a company loses its sense of urgency11:45 Product-led Sales: Many companies realize “We need sales.” or “We need PLG”, and one group has it much harder than the other17:15 Product-led growth is not a one-size-fits-all thing.19:25 Why getting attention in a commoditized market with sales-led growth is starting with a disadvantage20:35 The most common misconceptions around PLG for Sales-led businesses24:20 Pricing and packaging have to change if you go to a land and expand motion like product-led growth27:35 Should I put my pricing up or not? Yes. And much more than that. Ungating for B2B32:40 Interactive demos done right: Embedding an abstraction of your product36:15 Why enterprise accounts don’t care about time but usage and why you cannot get this wrong in B2B39:05 “Why does my sales cycle take so long, how do I move them faster?”42:05 Tearing down Silos in data and customer understandingLeah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
35: Lloyed Lobo - From Grassroots to (Growth) Greatness
Aug 31 2023
35: Lloyed Lobo - From Grassroots to (Growth) Greatness
Season 3 of the ProducTea: We spill the tea on how to Go to Market through Product-led Sales and Product-led Growth in B2B and the realities of senior leadership.This episode is very difficult to summarize, we touch on highly tactical methods on how to combine offline and online methods to drive communities. Why they are key to breaking into difficult markets and how Lobo did it in detail.The first half of the podcast is an inspiring origin story from Lobo from the slums he came from to the incredibly successful community expert, author, and 0 to-1 genius who almost lost everything because he couldn’t balance business with his family.In the 2nd half, we talk about highly tactical methods on how to combine offline and online to light a growth fire that goes out of control.It’s an absolute masterclass of how to understand community-led acquisition and why your love and relentless understanding of the customer’s problems will beat any other framework.Timestamps:02:00 Lloyed’s Origin Story, Growing up in the Slums and a War10:45 How we have to pretend that we’re all crushing it - how Lobo doesn’t play that game and how it haunts him16:50 When your mother asks you “Was your upbringing not good?” and how it ignited the spark behind Lobo’s drive.22:00 Getting priorities wrong between your business and your family.27:00 If you don’t do the hard things and do so without having strong opinions you blend in with the status quo and have no chance of being exceptional32:40 Authenticity is the only thing selling in a market that’s driven by word of mouth and trust through the opinions of others35:35 Scaling a culture to more people as a senior leader to fuel your growth42:00 Turning customers into evangelists beyond your organization by betting on a big market in a contrarian way 🔥🔥🔥🔥51:45 How to figure out your ideal customer profile from an audience’s perspective. Market size, propensity, and how to get access to it in detail.55:25 Using Sales as Glorified Community Managers… brokers of resources.57:10 Shutting down a conference with 60 confirmed speakers and how to salvage it into gold61:30 The common thing between ideas that gain traction.64:00 The secrets you give away for free need to be uncomfortable to give away.Leah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube
31: Dave Kellogg, deconstructing Conventional Wisdom in Marketing & Sales with a legend
Jul 27 2023
31: Dave Kellogg, deconstructing Conventional Wisdom in Marketing & Sales with a legend
Season 2 of the ProducTea! I’m joined by a silicon valley legend: Dave Kellogg, EIR at Balderton Capital, independent consultant/advisor, and author of Kellblog.We delve into the pitfalls of building a product strategy on shaky foundations and highlight anyone’s job of designing effective experiments to facilitate learning.We speak about an inherent fear of executives missing out constantly and distinguishing between strategic and opportunistic revenue.Why a company is not a democracy where every customer gets an equal say, and how to be cautious about the bad behaviors that can come from improper incentives.We share insights on establishing control over finding successful customers in a sales-led growth company and the concept of product-led sales and territories.Lastly, he addresses the challenges of understanding the inner workings of a SaaS company which usually means taking a hard look in the mirror.Timestamps:02:15 Dave’s introduction07:18 Explaining Marketing / Sales to technical people11:45 Not accepting things you don’t understand, conventional wisdom that’s not true15:50 What do people get wrong about Dave?17:35 Building product strategy on things that have no business to be built around & decision bias22:40 Your job is to design a good experiment - did we learn or did we learn nothing?25:17 A system that incentivizes to move metrics that are hard to manipulate → What is success?34:10 C-level fear of missing out. Strategic revenue and opportunistic revenue38:00 Your company is not a democracy where every customer gets one vote40:40 Bad behavior driven by incentivizing people wrong.47:15 Trying to get control over finding customers that will be successful in a sales-led growth company, product-led sales & territory54:25 Why is it so difficult to understand what’s going on inside a SaaS company?Connect!Dave’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelloggdave/Dave’s blog: https://kellblog.com/Leah: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leahtharin/Leah on Linkedin / Twitter / Youtube