The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

79. How to Successfully Navigate Major Transition w/ Bryan Caplin of Andela

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we talk to Bryan Caplin, CRO of Andela

Bryan recently left Axiom as GM and Head of North American Sales and Marketing of Axiom to join Andela as CRO. He talks us through that transition—knowing when was the right time to leave, his criteria for evaluating a new company, and what he did in the first 30, 60, 90 days as a new executive.

One, two, one, three, three, hey everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the salesacker podcast. We've got a great show with a very good friend of mine today, Brian Kaplan, the new chief revenal officer Vandela. He spent the last nineteen years at just two companies, corporate executive board and Axiom, and he left axiom recently as the general manager and head of North American sales and marketing to join and Ella as CRO and so we're going to be talking about that transition of you've worked somewhere, how do you know it's time to leave, and then how do you make the step to a new company and how do you evaluate those companies? And then what do you do in the first three thousand and sixty ninety days as a new executive to ensure that you hit the ground running and that you do a great job? So it's a great show. Before we get there, we want to thank our sponsors. We've got two sponsors today. The first is vide yard. Email isn't dead, but it's shore is boring. Add video to your emails to stand out on the inbacs for free with Vidyart. FIDYARD helps you easily record, send and track who is viewing your video content and three simple steps. First, easily record your screeners off on camera. Next, share your videos and email with just a few clicks and finally, see when someone watches your videos. Vide Yard will let you know who click play and how much they watched. Get vide yard for free by visiting vide yardcom forward slash sales hacker. That's vidyardcom forward salesacker. We also want to thank outreach. That's outreached Ioh, the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach support sales ups by enabling them to humanize communications at scale, from automating the soul sucking manual work that eats upselling time to providing actionary two tips on what communications are working best. Outreach has your back. Now let's listen to this amazing interview with my good friend Brian Kaplan. Hey, everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the sales hacker podcast. Today, I am delighted and excited to have a good friend of mine on the show. Today we've got Brian Kaplan. Brian is the newly appointed chief Revenue Officer of a company called Endella. Brian has a long and storied career as a sales manager, sales leader and commercial leader, both in the New York tech system and ecosystem, but also abroad in London and also in Washington DC. Prior to his appointment as chief revenue officer of Andela, he was the general manager and head of sales from North America. Had Axiom, which was a storied company that we can talk about a little bit. That, I think just went through a transaction, and then prior to that he spent ten years at CEB, which is the time that he spent over in London. And also we've known each other for quite a while. Brian went to the University of Virginia and has good taste in music and bad taste in sports teams. Would you agree? I would definitely agree with all of that. So well, welcome to the show, Brian. We we like to start with your baseball card. So you're the new cro of ANDELA. Correct, that is correct. What is who is? How does and Ella? Yeah, so in Della is what I would call an engineering as a service company. We helpful technology leaders build distributed software engineer software engineering teams quickly and cost effectively so they can hopefully ship product faster. We're based here in New York. been around for about six years. We have over a thousand engineers based on the continent Africa, across five different countries, and about two hundred client facing individuals here in the US. Wow, and how long have you been there? I've been here for a whopping one month. So drinking from the fire hose, as they say. They do say that. Okay, and then, well, I guess I'm curious. You know, this is this could be an interesting episode because you just joined as a cro but let's quickly go through the rest of your career and sort of figure out how how it was that you became to be a Crro. So you spent ten years at Corporate Executive Board, and then what happened? Tell...

...us, first of all, if anybody doesn't know, what is Corporate Executive Board Do, because I think that was sort of a formative part of your career. If you agree or disagree, yeah, I would definitely agree. So Corporate Executive Board, which then rebranded as CEB and is now part of Gartner, they really came to be known for what was called best practice research. The whole idea behind the corporate executive board was if you're a sea level executive across any function or someone on their team, you're probably struggling with the same challenges that another executive and another company has struggled with. Learned from them, learn from the best practices that they've figured out. Don't reinvent the wheel. If you're the head of sales and you're trying to figure out how to segment your territory more effectively, learn from someone else who's done that. And Seeb had teams of researchers that would figure out who was best in class, who had the best practice, and they would then teach those ideas and tools through to the to their members, you know, across a bunch of different functions. So that was that the whole idea behind the corporate executive board. It grew phenomenally across the ten years that I was there and, like I said, most recently was acquired by Gartner about two years ago. Cool. How'd you find your way to ax him? So, you know, spent, as you said, around ten years at CEB and including the last two years in London, which was the ton of fun and probably some of the more formative years in my sales career. AXIUM got to on my radar because one of my first of well actually my very first boss in sales at general by any but will McKinnon went to axiom law probably about two years before I went there and way back early in my career, I was a paralegal out of Undergrad. No, I didn't know it was. Yeah, thinking I wanted to go to law. Is that where you met your is that what you meant your one for life? Is it is? She went to law school, unfortunately, and I made the decision not too but we met, which was great. But I always had some interest in the law and so when I learned about axiom law, which was kind of this you know it's an overused term now, but this disruptor in the industry, learned about what they were doing and at the time they were really trying to build a true sales force in the legal industry, which was pretty novel, I thought, well, that's an interesting blend of my, you know, background in my interest in the subject matter. So will got me in front of the leadership of the company. At the time it was pretty small and and I got started over in London in January of two thousand and ten. Wow, and you just so ten years and then nine years and then you just started at and Ella. I guess when you think about you know, we talked about the average ten year being seventeen eighteen months for commercial leaders at high growth companies. You've just been at too high growth companies, but only two over nineteen years. What do you attribute that stability to, that longevity, if anything? Yeah, I can't say that I thought I would be at either Organization for nine and ten years. Right. That is such a probably too high of a bar to have an expectation to set. I can say in certainly in picking Axiom, and I think now the same at Andella, I went through a pretty, you know what I believe was a thoughtful and, you know, really discipline process in evaluating the organization. I I'm a loyal guy, as you can say, as you can see. So I'm looking for a place where I know I can grow. Obviously, so much of it is around the people. Right. Who Am I working for? Who Am I working with? Will I be intellectually stimulated? Will I be challenged by them? Will I learn from will I enjoy working with them? You know, all in my career I've primarily worked at you know, what I would call people based organizations or professional services organizations versus SASS or tech. So even more so, I think the onus is on the people you work with to have that experience. So, you know, ensuring that the fit is there...

...from the start was really, really important. I've tended to focus on, you know, earlier stage, high growth companies that have really strong product market fit. And again, you know, you learn that through evaluation, through talking with the board members, talking with, you know, clients or pass clients etc. So I can see that there's that runway for growth and, you know, have chosen, have chosen companies where I thought personally they would be a lot of growth for me as well. Again, I didn't think it would be a ten year run but you know, every year my job, my job change, the company change, the challenge is changed, and that that kept me really stimulated for a long time in both organizations. One of the think correct me if I'm wrong, but you know you're a revenue collective member. Jessica Hunt is rev ne collective member. She's your boss, but she came to axiom after you. Is that good? Yeah, I had I'd move back from London to New York in two thousand and thirteen and had been kind of running our New York business for a couple of years and then we hired jess from Gelg Gersonal Learner group to come in and she was my boss then. So hawd you. You know, there's we talked a lot on the podcast night interview lots and lots of people that sometimes they react differently to to somebody senior coming in over them, sometimes sort of supplanting the job that they expected to have. But you thrived when this situation happened. was there anything that you had to tell yourself kind of emotionally or psychologically, to adjust to a new boss? What's your approach, because clearly you followed her to Idella, so it obviously went really, really well. How did you think about, you know, somebody coming over the top? From a hierarchy perspective, would maybe that was a job that you wanted to respire to? Yeah, and look, I would. I'd be lying if I my first reaction wasn't why not me? Why am I not ready for this opportunity? And I think if you're a high performing, ambitious person, that's probably your first reaction. At the same time, you know at least with Jess. I quickly saw that here is an opportunity to learn from someone who had a pretty different skill set than I had, especially from a leadership perspective, from a change management perspective, from an operations perspective. And you know, I went into that, that relationship, saying, okay, you know, I'm going to give this a few months to to see how this is going to work, to in short, you know, to see if there's now in this is a fit, but you know, see what I can learn from this individual. You know, I knew that I could certainly I think these. I thought I could also teach just some things about axiom and about our business. And you know, very quickly it clicked and you know, we spent the better part of four or five years together. You know, you know, building a really great business at Axiom which you know, continues to thrive today. And and yeah, one just went to Endell. Obviously we you know, knowing that we might have that opportunity to work together again was really attracted me because I knew that I would continually learn, it continually be challenged. But I think probably what was consistent in our relationship and both organizations is just a level of trust and respect for what we bring to the table, which is pretty rare. Certainly something I try to enlist with all of my team members as well, and it's probably easier said than done, but I think you have to go, you know, at least in this case, you have to go into that relationship, you know, with the goal of establishing that and once you do, it just makes everything so much easier. So, because I think that's it's you attribute it sort of to a mindset perspective, because I think sometimes people are either intentionally or unintentionally undermining their new boss out of out of, you know, frustration or out of some political motivation. But you, you took the opposite approach. You you sort of said, I'm going to support this person and that's the mechanism through...

...which my career will advance one hundred percent, especially if you're working at a growth company. You know, like I was at axiom and out in Dell, there's going to be opportunity for everyone. If we are growing as a business, that entails going to mean more opportunity for everyone across the organization. So this wasn't a me versus my boss question or me versus one of my direct reports. If we are all successful, we are all growing this business, it's going to mean more opportunity for all of us. So you know that that idea of thought never, never across my mind and and you know, I think you have to look at every new boss as an opportunity, obviously to learn something new. You know, if you're not learning from your boss and if you're not teaching them things as well across the way, then I you know, I think that's probably not the right fit, that's probably not the right relationship and it might mean that, you know, you may need to move on or may need to find a new opportunity within the organization because, you know, I see that relationship is one of mutual learning, you know, across your time together, and once that stops, then it just gets really hard. Yeah, that makes that makes a lot of sense. So, you know, I think maybe one of the themes of this episode is is that is this transition, and so I'm really curious. You know, you were at axiom for nine years. What was the point at which you and and we're not going to dispair, you know, both all of the companies that you work for outstanding companies. This isn't about one company's bad versus one company's good. It's really about your personal growth. But what was the point at which you started to feel how did you know it was time to leave? I guess because, you know, nine years in, you know there's people. Frankly, I have friends at Glog that have been there sixteen years. So some people just stay places. How did it? How did you know when it was time? Yeah, and and look, it was. Is One of the tougher decisions of my career. I had made so many incredible built so many incredible relationships across the the nearly ten years. There people who have become some of my closest friends in the world. And you know, I just took so much pride and building that, that company. You know, I think it was a couple things for me. You know, one, I felt like the team that I would be leaving behind was in a really good place. It was really important to me that when it was time for me to leave, the organization would continue to thrive and hopefully accelerate without me. Not to say that I was the sole reason for that, but I wanted to feel good that that I had left my team in a really good place in the organization, in a really good place to continue to succeed and I felt that, you know, probably you know, halfway through courtaway, through two thousand, two thousand and nineteen. That was number one. Number two, as I thought about the you know, the things for me to still to learn at axiom and the stage of growth that they were in right this is, as you know, a Sim will do, you know, over three hundred million dollars in revenue in two thousand and nineteen. The challenges that were ahead. What were they at? What were they at when you started a million O Mozel? It was a fun ride, to say the least. It but you know, but it is a different stage of growth that they are about to embark on and the different set of challenges that are no doubt exciting and and no doubt will be hard. They weren't as interesting to me at this point in my career. Not to say they won't be interesting later. But if I thought about the challenges in leading, you know, the next stage of growth across the size of organization versus going to and earlier stage venture backed organization that was, you know, doubling in size year over a year. As I thought about okay, the next call at five to ten years of my career. That was really exciting for me and obviously the opportunity to enter an organization, you know, as a sea level executive as well, was also exciting. So it was. It was, you know, almost less about what was ahead of me at axiom more about kind of the other opportunities that were in front of me. That that we're really getting me charged up. I also felt that,...

...given, you know, axiom was headed for an exit, which you'll loaded to earlier. You know, it was a nice capping off of my career there. It was certainly a North Star for, I think, many of us at the Organization for a while and while it is not the destination, it is certainly just a point in the journey. It was an important one. That was, you know, a kind of something that we were aiming for for a long time, and to be able to transition out as that was happening, you know, also to me felt like, okay, I can leave now and feel really good about what I've left behind. Yeah, and so as you're picking your head up, and obviously, you know, you and I were in conversations throughout this process, but for the listeners as you're picking your head up and thinking about, you know, what you wanted to do and clearly, I think at that point you know one of the goals was probably get that chief of a new officer title. But you are also, you know, getting back into the market and talking about your skill set and who you were. Did you face, you know, where their challenges to the fact that you you just described both CEB and and axiom a sort of professional services businesses, when you know kind of be tob SASS software companies are kind of all the rage? Did you find that you are excluded from those opportunities and and Deela just emerged naturally, or did you have to remark it yourself in some way? How did you balance that tension, if there was one at all? I wouldn't say I was excluded from those opportunities. However, the question was definitely asked, you know, when I would be talking with with SASS companies around. Well, you've never sold SASS before. Tell us, you know, how would you make that transition or, you know, what are the things you haven't done that might be hard for you, or what do you think the biggest differences are? And Look, there are absolutely differences between selling assass product versus selling a professional services product. Right, no doubt. You know. My response often would be look, at the end of the day, however, the challenge is that your sales organization will be faced with from hiring great talent, to retaining great talent, to developing that great talent to, you know, delivering and solving client problems, right, and so on and so one that it does not change whether you're selling a piece of software versus selling a service. Okay, when you get into some of the price saying, in the structuring of the deal and certainly on the customer success side, as you talk about managing churn, some of those things will differ, but not, I don't believe, any way, they differ so fundamentally that, you know, assass leader can't transition to a professional services organization or vice versa. Now, for me, as I went through the search, and you know, you get different pieces of advice from your mentors and your friends. Some people say absolutely, you need to go into Sass, you need to go into Tex. Some will say it doesn't matter. You know, at the end of the day, and I think you know, reflecting upon the two organizations, that I was at. For me it was more what was more important was the fit with the organization, the values of that organization, the growth that was ahead of them and the product market. FIT versus. It was SASS versus not Sass, because there are plenty of wonderful SASS companies out there and plenty that are probably struggling, and the same can be said for professional services. And, you know, I think once I landed on okay, for me it matters less around SASS versus nonsat, you know, not SASS. You know, it opened up just a kind of an even greater set of opportunities for me to consider. Yeah, I mean to your point, I think. I think a lot of recruiters and HR people and people that are just in talent acquisition use SASS experience, quote unquote, as just a as a filter, just to call the herd and some like to get down to a manageable number, because I don't really you know, I think running a big sales team it requires intelligence and, yeah, leadership skills that aren't that different from from type of sale to type of sale. Yeah, I mean this may sound controversial,...

...but you know, I love, you know, recruiting sales exects who have who have not sold Sass, you know, because I want people who've had to, you know, create the solution right, who've had to create the vision around what they're delivering. They can't point to, you know, a demo or point to, you know, a piece of software that in sometimes can speak for itself. I think the challenge of having to really dig in, understand a client's problem and paint of visions for how how your solution can solve that problem. That's really hard, you know, when you can't say, okay, go to this website or down this piece of soft download this piece of software to test it out. In some ways the challenge is even greater there and I think requires and even higher, you know, level of sophistication intellectual horsepower to be successful in that type of environment. I think that's such a great point. So Fair enough, so you, and I think the way that you described it is is fantastic. And, by the way, this is this is a challenge that many people are facing right now. This this transition from there's a world of recurring revenue businesses out there and they've been in different type of sale and I'm trying to figure out how to market themselves. So you you were successful in doing that and now you've got a portfolio of opportunities. You mentioned. You know, product market fit you. What are the other elements? And maybe earlier stage venture backed, but when you're thinking about what you know made you choose and Deela, what were the key ingredients? You know, in this case I was looking at the leadership of the organization. Obviously there was a fit and a comfort level with just hunt again, who I work with an axiom, and who was the CEO there. But you know, as I said to her, as and I said to to our CEO, Jeremy Johnson, while Jess might be the reason I'm sitting here in the office today, it's not the reason why I'm going to come here, because there has to be more than just that for me to stay in to thrive. And so for me it was meeting, obviously the the the broader executive team, really understanding Jeremy's vision for the organization and, more importantly, his his values and his investment in people. You know, you know, talking with him to understand, you know how he developed his team, how he built this organization, the you know how he cared for, looked after a lot of the employees in the organized. So just understanding who he was as a person and kind of his vision for the organization was really important. To really trying to understand what the growth story for the organization has been and understanding and talking to some of the investors in the company, and Della has raised over a hundred and fifty million dollars across the last three years from some pretty, I think, pretty phenomenal and pretty diverse group of VC firms, and talking to some of them to understand why they invested in this business and, you know, why they think this is going to be a really big business and have put their money behind it. Right. That speaks volume. So spending some time to understand, you know, how they chose and Deella and why they chose to invest in it was really really important as well. And then, you know, really digging in a little bit more with with our CFO to understand the investments we were making in the business, the investments I would be able to make in the Revenue Organization to achieve what I think we need to achieve in the coming years, was probably the final piece. To know that, you know, the company was ready to invest in building a high performing sales organization, which is my biggest goal and North Star for the company right now, across the next you know, call it two years. So you just mentioned a number. Hundred and fifty million. Were you you know, and you we don't have to share the the rr of and Ella, but but you know, it's probably if you've raised a hundred and fifty million. I think the last round was a hundred million, if I'm not mistaken. I mean the companies raised a lot of money. Were you worried about that, as you had in from an Equity Valuation Perspective that the valuation of the business, the private market valuation of the business, was so high that it would really take, you know, it...

...would take a lot of war. It just sort of created more risk around the value of the equity potentially that that was being granted to you. Or was it not really consideration because you just believed in the mission of the company? I would say I was worried about it. I think it think it really comes down to your your time horizon and your commitment. Right, if you see something as a two year opportunity or a two year time frame, then yeah, you probably should be worried because the growth targets to you that you would have to hit to to really recognize that that valuation in such a short period of time or probably not realistic. But if your time horizon is a bit longer and your commitment and belief in the organization goes longer than that, as it does for me, then you're less worried. Right then you're just focused on building a really great company and you know there's going to be some bumps in the road along the way, but if you do the things you know you need to do, you'll get there and you look, I've I've having been at axiom for ten years, where there is a number of fits and starts across that time around, you know, potential additional investments and exits. I've gone into this opportunity and the others that I considered knowing that, you know, your time horizon, I think, has to be longer than you know, one or two years in a in a you know, high growth venture bit back company like that too, I think really deliver the value that that your investors will be looking for. And that was a conversation I had as well with the leadership team and certainly with some of the investors was around around that time horizon and what they were looking for from a potential exit perspective. You need to shore that in to ensure that you are all aligned from that perspective. And obviously things can change, but you know, I felt I felt good about that, you know, in those conversations that I had and and have gone into this knowing that this was going to be, you know, this will hopefully be more than a two year process, when you're trying to get an a linement around the time horizon of the investment and it for me, it's always been a little bit of a balancing act because the reality is that the investors are not philanthropists. They are looking for a return on their invested capital and and you want to do great work, but you're also not a philanthropist. But sometimes having a clarifying conversation about that feels transactional, where you selfconscious about saying, you know, what are we trying to do here? Are We trying to IPO or trying to exit? Did you do you feel like you had to dance around that a little bit? How did you approach some of those conversations? You know, I really wanted to understand, you know, you know, first and foremost, like what were their reasonings for investing in the organization right, like, sure, I mean, as you put it, they are not investing out of the just the goodness of their their heart, but I want to understand, like how they have valuated the company and what, beyond the financial return, was was important to them. I hesitated to, you know, really push or ask for time horizon questions for an exit because I just think that is such a fool's errand because the reality is so much can change year in and year out. I think it's kind of silly to to ask for commitments or make promises that are really hard to to probably follow up on. I think the reality is if you if you build a great company, if you hit the growth targets that that we put in front of us, that are put in front of us, we will have a bunch of different opportunities to consider from an exit perspective. But at the end of the day, you know, if we're not growing the organization, if we're not building a great company and a great sales organization, like it doesn't matter if it was a two year time horizon or a four year or a five year time horizon, it will just get pushed out and pushed out. So I didn't you know. Personally, like, again, having seen this through beforehand at axiom, to me I kind of throw it all out like no matter what an investor is going to say to me and say, Oh, this is a two year run or this is a four year run. To me it's more about the fundamentals...

...of the business, why they invested and what are the growth targets we need to hit over the coming years to build the company we want to hit. That was more important to me than what you know. Somebody from a VC firm is going to tell me they think the company will be worth the three years. Yeah, makes sense. This is always just a big question for lots of people. You're joined a new company in a sales or commercial leadership position. My sales or marketing. There's a plan already for two thousand and nineteen. I guess you joined in October or September, so really you can't be responsible for that. So maybe that's a perfect time to join, I guess, because you can be part of the two thousand and twenty plan unless it's fully big. But how do you approach the concept that there may be financial targets that you didn't have an input into, the revenue targets, that you then inherit and feel responsibility for it. Do you try to renegotiate? What's your how do you how do you yeah that? So, I mean you're right. For Two thousand and nineteen, my impact is is pretty minimal. All right, some some tweaks here and there, but you know, there's just not much I can impact or really should try and impact or change within the first thirty sixty days. I am very much and listen, in learning mode right now. We are in the throes of two thousand and twenty planning, and so you're right. From a timing perspective, it's been a good time to hopefully impact what I think we can deliver for two thousand and twenty and together, even before I started, the company was great about starting to loot me in and some of that planning starting to give me, you know, ask for some of my input around, you know, what we think we need to be successful in two thousand and twenty. And this was, you know, during my kind of transition period outside of outside of Axiom. So you know, they were unable to obviously disclose a lot to me as I wasn't yet part of the company, but they were starting to clue me and on certain things that they were thinking about in targets and just getting my input on that. Certainly in my first thirty days the here and my next thirty days, it's all about two thousand and twenty planning. I'm working hard to get up the curve quickly so I can give some informed thoughts and opinions on what feels realistic from a growth perspective, what feels stretchy and what are the resources that we need to be to be successful. Obviously you'd always wish you you have more time, but I feel pretty good about having enough time to say, okay, these are the investments that I need to make, this is what real what's realistic in this is what's not. So you know, I'm may feel very differently in six months time, so you should check back in with me. But I think you know joining yeah, and tend to it, but I think joining at this point in the year actually in some in some cases is somewhat ideal because you accept what you know the current year is going to be and then you're really just playing for next year. What is your three thousand, six hundred and ninety plan? How do you approach that? You know. So how does one enter an organization? There's a there's a fairly large and installed sales and kind of revenue organization. It's I mean I know that it's multi city. I don't know if it's I don't think you all have a London office yet, but certainly I haven't. Know. We don't have an Austin office and you probably give field reps in other places. We have a couple out on the west coast, but it's majority New York and Austin. Yeah, but so how do you do that? What's your what's your plan to give? All of these people are looking to you. They they're probably have their guards up a little bit. What do you do over the first, you know, three to six months to set the path, set the course? Yeah, I've kind of broken it up into three components which more or less aligned with the three thousand and six and ninety. The first thirty has just been people. Right, I'm doing one on ones with every single person in the Revenue Organization, from the A team to the partner success team or client success team to our revops function to spending time down in Austin with our with our str so really trying to understand everyone their story, what's working, what's not? You know, if I had am if they had a magic one, what could they change? So just a lot of listening and trying not to jump to too many conclusions and I'm kind of slowly wrapping up that component of the of my own boarding...

...that the next thirty days, I think would be pretty operational. You know, really understanding the KPI's. You know, how do we measure success, the DASHBOARDS and tools that we're using, you know, our text stack, just the kind of mechanics of the business, so to speak. And then the final kind of thirty days or the or the fatal final call at ninety days will be really client facing. So listening to meeting clients, listening to them, understanding what's working what's not. Potential clients right to understand how we're pitching and Ella, you know, what's working, what's not. You know, just learning about our solution, you know, to in greater depth and then, you know, really hopefully from there I can then start to move into a little bit of just, you know, what you might call business as usual and start to do some of the things that I think we need to do. So I've broke I'm breaking it up into those three trunks. Obviously there's some you know, some of those will run it in concurrent with one another, but chopping it up like that at least has made it and I've communicated that out as well to some of the folks, so they know it. They this is what I'm focus on right now. This is what you can expect for me or, more importantly, not expect for me, because I just haven't gotten to that part of the learning curve yet. HMM, any big surprises when you think of you know, the second thirty days you mentioned is KPI's metrics dashboards. You know the cockpit view of you know how to run the business before you dive into client meetings. Are there any metrics that are surprised? Or is it basically we know what we talked about on day, every day. You know pipeline and you know conversion rates and win rates and things like that. You know, in fact, I've been pleasantly surprised with, you know, the level of sophistication we have from a metrics and KPI's perspective. In fact, we might have too many, which I think is not it's probably the problem you want to have. You know, for a you know, fairly kind of early stage growth company, we're fairly farther far along in terms of both the bi tools that we use to track our success and the kind of level of data that we actually look at. What I'm trying to figure out now is, okay, what are the ones we need to really focus on weekend, week out and month in, month out. So the surprise has been okay, we're further along than we thought. I think actually there might be a little bit of scaling back that has to be done, you know, versus the the other problem, which is we need to build the stuff from from the ground up. Yeah, that's well, that is a good problem to have. Most of the Times they opposite. One of the when we talked about this offline, you said it was okay to ask about it. One of the things that happened right as you joined was that in some ways, and Ella pivoted some of the core value proposition. I guess, would you characterize it that way? And you know what, what has that been like? which is the reality that you know, you parted ways with I think four hundred junior engineers. How has that been as a new executive into the business? Yeah, I mean, look, it was it was hard and it was hard for everyone. You know, this is a company that cares deeply about its people, especially the wonderful engineers we have on the continent in Africa, and you know, this was a decision very much driven by changes in demands that we're seeing here in the US and and frankly, I think you know, an acceptance in a minute, the minutes from us that we were probably a little bit late to the game and recognizing that change in demand. So we had to make the tough decision to unfortunately part ways with, you know, pretty large number of d of Our engineers who were not working for and Ella clients and shift kind of our our focus in terms of an organization that developed, primarily developed its own talent to an organization that will go out and hire more experience talent that's out there in the world today. We will still continue to develop some...

...of our own talent, it'll be focused in one country, and Rwanda, but we will shift more to an organization that acquires more experience talent because that's what clients are asking from us and, you know, I think we're going through that transition as a company from one early on where you're very focused on yourself. Right you're building your brand, you're building your value opposition, it's all about you, to the company we need to be, which is one that's a little bit more focused on our clients and what they need and what they're asking us for. And right now what they're saying is we need more senior, sophisticated engineers who can come in, hit the ground running and do some pretty complex and challenging software development work. We needed to pivot our recruiting strategy and hiring strategy in Africa and eventually will extend beyond Africa as well, to keep up with that demand. So it was a very hard decision. It was one that the exact team kind of told me about before I started, so I wasn't blindsided by it and it certainly consumed a lot of our time across September. We're kind of through it now and it was handled, you know, I think, as thoughtful and as can be and you know, we're excited to start moving forward again. Cool. Well, thanks for addressing it. One last topic before, you know, before we wrap up, which is, you know, I alluded to to your family earlier and you've got you've got three boys in New York City, in Brooklyn. We won't give you the given and give out your street address, but thank you for I appreciate it. No problem. You've got three raps, gallions, three crazy kids. How do you handle the work life balance of you know, you're in being an executive. You're a crow. There's a high expectation around performance and impact at the same time that you want to be president and available for your children. And also your children are themselves? You know they're not. They're crazy, they're they require some attention and some other site. Yeah, a fair bit. They're very poorly behaved. I have unsuccessfully tried to purchase one of them, but you have not. You've not sold a negotiation. So how do you do it? What's your secret? That's why, yeah, I'M gonna have a secret. I think first and foremost, you know, I think you need to make that you need to make that same level of commitment at work at home, and my wife often talks about setting up guard rails and ensuring that you are present at home when you need to be right, and some of that are, you know, small things like when I get home, taking the phone and putting it away for a couple of hours so I can be present for them, to do their homework with them. Or, you know, I have a one voyage ten, one aged eight, one age three, right, so very, very different requirements. So it's doing homework with the ten year old and then it's like, you know, playing toys with the three year old. So some of it is just putting up those guard rails so that you can be present for them and and be involved with them right, you know, ensuring that you do make that time to be at their school when you need to, in the morning, in the afternoons or if it's on the stball field and on the weekend. I talk about it, I think, pretty openly with my team as well, like it's really important to me that they see me not only, as you know, a leader who's really committed to to to them and their careers, but someone is also committed to my family and and you know, I want to give them that same level of freedom and independence and space to do the same. You know, I think you are a better leader and employee at work. If you have a full life right, if you have life outside of work, it's really fulfilling and really really engaging. If you are just all about work all the time, I think that gets old really quickly, not just for you but probably for your colleague. So so ensuring that you have that opportunity be engaged outside of work, I think is really important and it's certainly been important for me and and and I talked about work with them, you know, especially in my ten and eight year...

What does this mean? What does it mean to be in sales? Try explaining that to to an eight year old. What do you say? I talked about how we solve client problems. I talk about how we provide a service to them and they pay US money for that service and that money allows us to employ people so they can put food on the table for their families. So I try to relate it to kind of, you know, in terms that they can understand and how it impacts them or people like them, you know, it with other with other employees and their families, and they get it and I bring them into the office. I used to bring them into the axiom office all the time. I'm sure my colleagues are probably thankful that they are gone and no longer destroying the place, but I want them to see it and I want people to see what my family is like and I want to meet and know there's as well. So it's something I really pride myself on, is the ability to be really present at work when I am there and to deliver for my team and be really present at home to deliver from my family as well. When you are you do feel obligated. You know, you mentioned you put the phone away when you get home. Do you pick up the laptop again after the kids are in bed and do another hour of work? Were I do? I try not to do it every night and you know I'm certainly doing it more right now than maybe you know when I was kind of in business as usual mode at at axiom and but you know, that's unfortunately just what has to be done right now. So I come home, I put the phone away with them, you know, like I said, homework, food, you know, dinner, bath, that whole thing. You know, when they go to bed between eight and nine. Yeah, you know, flip up, open the laptop and try to get some work done. Can't do that every night. Again, I think you are more productive when you have that balance, but right now that's that's what it takes, and I tell my team that, like, Hey, you might not hear from me from these hours and then if you need something, I'll be back online. I also tell them don't you don't need to respond to me after these hours. I'm also a big Sunday evening worker to just prepare for the week. I find that I'm less stressed coming in on Monday if I can get a lot of works on on Sunday nights. And I tell them don't feel need to respond. This is for me, this is how I work. That doesn't mean my expectation is that you have to work this way as well. That's cool. That's nice of you. Thanks. What time you go to bed? Too late, probably eleven. And what time do you wake up? Six, okay, seven, that's we're getting close to eight hours. Quite a time. Not Quite eight hours, but it is what it is. Brian, thank you so much for being on the show the last little bit here. We want to pay it forward, and so we want to ask you who are your influences? Who are the people that you look up to. Who are the people that you think we should know about, who's had a big impact on your life, either personally or professionally? Well, we've obviously alluded to my current boss, who, you know, has been a wonderful mentor as well and sponsor to me, just haunt. I learned the art of sales, however, from from to people that that I want, whom I mentioned earlier at Ceb. One is will McKinnon, who ran sales ATS EB and then axiom. He's now an exact recruiter, and then his successor, a gentleman by the name of Mike Archer, who ran CEB during kind of the height of their growth and rand sales there, and he is someone who I still consider, you know, a mentor today and I have sought advice from him for many years. So those two individuals, you know, certainly had a profound impact and really taught me what it means to be a sales leader and, more importantly, taught me that this is a profession and a profession we should be proud of. And you know, I have kind of, you know, picked up the torch from them in terms of any organizations I've been in hopefully elevating the view and hopefully the respect that the sales organization gets inside, and I learned it from both of them. Awesome, Brian. If folks are listening to this and they want to help indella achieve its mission, they want to work for you, maybe they want you to be a mentor they want to reach out and ask you a question. Is that okay with you and, if so, what's your preferred method of communication? I would I...

...would love that. I'd be honored to we are hiring a ton right now and Andela. They can obviously find me on Linkedin. You can email me directly. Brian Dot Kaplan. It's Bur y an DOT C A P L I, and I try to make it as difficult as possible. Brian Dot Kaplan, pet and dellacom. Awesome, Brian. Thanks so much for being on the show. I'll talk to you on Friday for Friday fundamentals. Thanks, SAM by. Hey, everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. This is SAM's corner. Thanks for listening. What a great interview with Brian Kaplan. He's a good friend, but also it's just a thoughtful commercial leader and a couple points that I just want to reiterate with everybody. The first is if you're going to think about leaving jobs, you got to do your due diligence and and Brian did a tremendous amount of due diligence when he decided to leave Axiam and join in Ella. And Della wasn't the only company that he spoke to. He spoke with a wide number of companies. He didn't feel like there was a huge barrier from moving from services sales to SASS sales, but he made sure that he had a talk track and he explained why it wasn't a barrier and I think that's important for everybody. I personally don't believe that Sass sales are so elusive and mysterious and strange and that you know, anybody that's done a different type of sale has no way of understanding what assass sale looks like. Often it's just a euphemism for understanding of modern sales techniques and sale strategies and if you've been at a modern high growth company you probably know those things are have been exposed to them. But at any rate, the big point is do your due diligence. That means talking to current employees, former employees, the founder, means at the right time, talking to investors and it means really understanding the growth plan and growth model of the business. So that's that's sort of one thing to think about. Second thing that we talked about is, you know, Brian inherited a new boss when he was an axiom, a woman named just hunt who's been on the show and who is the current coo of Vandella, and she recruited him to Indela. So clearly they establish a good relationship. At the point that she joined, he he had been what they called layered right. She had come in over top of him. So how do you deal with that? And he made just a really, really important and good point. He said when the company grows, you grow right and your responsibility. As long as the company is growing, don't worry about who's over top of you and what you get to continue to report to the CEO or the Cro and now I have to report to the VP of sales or somebody else. The point is, is growth happening. Because of growth is happening, you are going to have responsibility and responsibility and new jobs and new opportunities will emerge. So if you can just get in that mindset of committing yourself to helping the company grow. An executed strategy, new opportunities will reveal themselves to you, even if you have a new boss and you're upset potentially that you know there's a layer between you and who your former boss was. But don't worry about that as much as worrying about can you help the company grown? If you can do that, I think you're going to be in a great position. Finally, he walked through his three thousand and six ninety day plan. I personally think that three thousand nine is is maybe too short in terms of how long it takes an executive to really understand and on board, and the implication of a thre thousand nine is at the end of ninety are supposed to start making big impact and I think it takes a little bit longer than that. But Brian broke it up into really logical segments. The first thirty days listening to the team, meeting the team, understanding what the team wants, how they think about the business. The next sixty days or next thirty days, the first sixty days operational sasing the business, understanding what are the Kpis, what are the metrics, what are the dashboards? What are the things that we're going to be reviewing and monitoring on an ongoing basis? And then the last thirty days, spend time with clients. And this is an area where a lot of executives make a big, big, big mistake, which is that they do not spend enough time with clients. In their first three months. They spend all of their time inward looking and not enough time outwards looking. You need to be looking outwards such that you can have the right global perspective, that they didn't bring you into the company so that you can help them and help everybody. Stare at...

...your belly button. The point is that you need to bring an outside perspective and you need to bring a fresh perspective from your conversations directly with the clients. Do not rely on third parties to channel the information back to clients and you need to meet with them alone. So in some instances, so that the account manager, of the salesperson, whomever, isn't buffering the information. You need to develop your own perspective as a new person at a company, particularly a new executive. So those are some of the thoughts from Sam's corner. Hope you enjoyed the episode. Before we go, we want to thank our sponsors. We have two on the show, vidyard. VIDYARD email isn't dead, but it sure is boring. AD video to your emails to stand out in the inbox for free with vidyard. Get vidyard for free by visiting vidyardcom forward salescacker. And then our second sponsors, outreach, the leading sales engagement platform. Go to outreach DOT IO forwards sales hecker from our information. All Right, thanks for listening and I'll talk to you next time.

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