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PODCAST 123: How to Go From a Transactional Model to a Subscription Model with Brandon Meyers

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This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we’ve got a fantastic episode for you. We’ve got an interview with Brandon Meyers, the chief revenue officer of ADARA.

Brandon worked his way up from the very bottom to the very top. He even managed to help pivot the company from a programmatic transactional revenue model to a subscription model over the course of, not just the last three months during COVID, but over the course of the last few years. It has been an incredible journey for him.

If you missed episode 122, check it out here: Tips for Building a Diverse Team of High-Quality Salespeople with Wesley Ulysse

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:10]
  2. Who is Brandon Meyers and what is ADARA [2:25]
  3. Building a business in Europe [14:37]
  4. Critical skills for success as a Chief Revenue Officer [19:58]
  5. COVID’s effects on Brandon and ADARA [31:10]
  6. People who have inspired Brandon [37:16]
  7. Sam’s Corner [40:51]

Show Introduction [00:10]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to Sales Hacker Podcast. Today, we’ve got a fantastic episode for you. We’ve got an interview with Brandon Meyers, the chief revenue officer of ADARA. Brandon worked his way up from the very bottom to the very top. He even managed to help pivot the company from a programmatic transactional revenue model to a subscription model over the course of, not just the last three months during COVID, but over the course of the last few years. It has been an incredible journey for him. And he walks us through it in a way that I think is pretty interesting and compelling. So it’s a great show.

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Now, without further ado, let’s listen to this interview with Brandon Meyers.

Who is Brandon Meyers and what is ADARA [2:25]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. Today, I’ve got Brandon Meyers on the show. We’re really lucky to have him. He is the chief revenue officer of a company called ADARA, a data cooperative focused on the travel and discretionary spending space, so we’ll dig into that. Brandon has over 15 years of experience in technology, sales, and ad tech, and he’s recognized as one of the leading figures in the Bay Area on advertising technology. Of course, he’s also a fantastic Revenue Collective member. No coincidence that he’s on the show. Brandon, welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast.

Brandon Meyers: Sam, glad to be here. Thanks, thanks so much.

Sam Jacobs: We’re happy to have you. So the first place we start is your baseball card, which is basically trying to contextualize your expertise. So you are the chief revenue officer of ADARA. Now, I gave a one-liner on what ADARA is, but in your words tell us what is the company, tell us what is a data cooperative. Walk us through the basic business model.

Brandon Meyers: There’s kind of an evolution of our business, and maybe I can take you guys through that as well. But ultimately, who we are today and who we have been over the last several years is really a company that’s been able to aggregate unique data sets across the travel industry, and now we’re moving into adjacent marketplaces as well. Obviously COVID has really caused some constraints in travel, and so that requires us to kind of expand the addressable market that we’re approaching. So what do we do, right? One, we’ve got first party relationships with a number of enterprises like Marriott, United, American Airlines. We’ve been able to aggregate data from these companies in real time, and then use that to power business results for these types of companies.

So some of the ways that we work with them are helping them to enhance their CRM, helping to really work on the fraud and identity side when we recognize a common ID, being able to understand if that’s a transactor or not, and then just more tactically think audience targeting to drive conversion for these types of companies. So that’s a really easy way to sum up what we do and what we focus on as a business.

Sam Jacobs: Do you sell to the chief marketing officer? Is that your primary persona?

Brandon Meyers: That’s right. So it could be on that side. We work also with advertising agencies as well, and so it could be a buyer within an ad agency also.

Sam Jacobs: Is it a subscription service? Is it recurring revenue, or is it delivered in a different way?

Brandon Meyers: That’s a really good conversation, and maybe let me take you through a little bit of the story of ADARA, and that might get to a good answer for your question.

ADARA started probably about 15 years ago now, and really the idea was that we can use data to drive predictive results for companies. So as we kind of got our feet on the ground in that space and evolved and scaled that business, over time what happened was the market started to shift. So in 2019, we saw in ad tech in general a lot of companies moving toward bringing capabilities in house. So the way that we had to work with our customers had to change. So what did that mean for us? That means we need new pricing models, we need to figure out new delivery mechanisms for our data, so on and so forth. And so if you look at our business let’s say 24 months ago, the majority of our revenue came from very transactional, I/O based business.

And last year, what we did was we spun out some technology which we call Cortex, which is effectively a catalog of audiences and data that someone can subscribe to. So today as it stands, we have both subscription revenue, we still have a tremendous amount of transaction revenue that we’re kind of managing on both sides. And so we’re in the middle of a bit of a market transition. At the same time, we’re also transitioning our business, and so you see kind of a bifurcated model between both the transaction business and the new business, which is more of a traditional type of SaaS model. So that’s kind of where we’re at, and we’re really aggressively focused on converting the majority of our existing customer base over to this new world.

Sam Jacobs: It’s a difficult journey. I’ve worked with and consulted for a bunch of different companies. This catalog sounds like a legitimate subscription offering. One of the challenges that early stage companies sometimes make is they want to call transactional revenue subscription revenue, but the customer doesn’t view it as a subscription. The customer views it as a transaction, and I’ve often found that the real way to understand if it’s a subscription is to ask the customer if they view it as such. I don’t know if you’ve encountered any of those challenges or difficulties.

Brandon Meyers: What’s changed for us and I think what’s also creating an opportunity for us in the marketplace is, a couple of anecdotes that we’ve gotten from C-level folks that work in ad tech are data is just really underutilized, because the cost of data is exorbitant or extortionate in some cases. And so what we’ve found is that if you can create the subscription based, all-you-can-eat type of model for data, then data is used in a much more profound way. And so the idea is that data has to be used at scale in this space, and there’s really no incentive for the buyer to kind of scale up if I’m looking at it from a transaction standpoint, right?

I’ve used this very specific bit of data for one very specific thing, and then it’s easy for me to move on. And so we found ourselves in a place where we have a legitimate opportunity to leverage subscription, because there’s true benefits to the customer on the other side of that by getting access to all you can eat data for kind of one set fee. So there’s benefits to us, we have the recurring revenue and predictable revenue, and then the benefit to the customer is they have a fixed cost for a really unique data asset in which they can go in and use in a very direct and deliberate way across their enterprise.

Sam Jacobs: It sounds like a powerful offering, so I’m excited for this transition and this journey that y’all have embarked on. Speaking of journeys, let’s talk a little bit about you. So what’s your background?

Brandon Meyers: I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a Midwest town. Kind of a middle class family situation. A single-parent household situation, and so not unique for the Midwest as it were. And so it was really hard to kind of sit in that community and that space and try to envision myself in the C-suite or in an executive position somewhere beyond kind of what I knew. And so it was really critical for me to kind of escape or get beyond that. And so it was actually quite funny. Literally the day that I got my bachelors degree, I went home, packed up my car, and left. My mom came outside and was just like, “Where are you going?” “I’m going to Florida, Mom.”

And so just kind of looking at Michigan and the economy in Michigan at that time, there really wasn’t much to strive for. There’s the furniture industry in Michigan, and then the auto industry in Michigan. And then in 2005, we’re very close to the place where the auto industry was required to receive a federal bailout. And so all of those things left me almost feeling in a certain way that there was a bit of hopelessness in terms of future opportunity within my own community. And so I knew that I had to leave, and didn’t necessarily have a destination in mind. But I had some friends in Orlando, and decided to go down there and take a shot at an opportunity.

And so I moved down there, I had an interview lined up. One of one interview, got the job. Saw myself entering into the buy side, so was on the marketing side working for Southwest Airlines Vacations at the time. Spent a few years there, realized pretty quickly that I wanted to be on the sales side and selling advertisements, so I moved back to the Midwest to Chicago. Spent some time at Orbits and a couple of other firms, and then eventually landed in San Francisco and joined ADARA. And this is 2011. So I joined ADARA as an individual contributor, spent about two years doing that, and then the company was looking to expand overseas. And so I quickly raised my hand and said this is an awesome opportunity for me to get sales leadership experience, but also get the expat experience, which at that time I looked at as something incredibly valuable for me.

So I found myself in London, a one of one employee introducing this new brand to advertising agencies in Europe. And that was a really big challenge. No one knew who I was, no one knew who this company was, and we’re selling data in a market where talking about data, a lot of people are familiar with GDPR and some of the things that have come as a result of that, is almost taboo to a certain extent. And so that was really challenging. The first six months were just a lot of swing and misses. But eventually, we got our feet on the ground, and over the course of about two and a half years, we launched offices in Dublin and Paris, Germany and Dubai, and scaled that business from zero to about 22 million in that two and a half year timeframe.

So it was a tremendous run, and really, really rewarding experience. And at that time, our business was growing, and then 2015 we closed our Series C funding of about 23 million. And in that year, from 2015 to 2016, our business was really running very fast. But globally, we started to see some headwinds, and we actually burned through that Series C fund quite quickly. And so that left our company in a situation where we were trying to figure out how to grow? We burned through a tremendous amount of cash on things like marketing and scaling up the team, but the revenue wasn’t growing as quick as the spend, and so that was quite challenging for us.

So I spent some time talking to our CEO, our CTO, and some of the board members about ways that we can go to market in a different way that might allow us to kind of break that next kind of barrier to growth. So created a plan, created a much more flat organization, started to focus much more on the fundamentals versus the splash and pizazz that kind of got us to where we were, and was able to step into this CRO role managing a global team at that time. So 2016, we kind of finished a reorg, 2017 we hit the ground running, saw really tremendous growth in 2017. And so we saw about a 35% growth that year. And then from 2018 to 2019, another 45% growth and broke the $100 million top line sales figure. And so it was a really awesome run.

And then kind of to the earlier part of our conversation, that’s when we started to see the market change in 2019, and really forced our hand to say we’re moving to this more kind of SaaS based model, and how do we start to convert our customers to what the future is for our business? And so that’s kind of where we sit. And then 2020 comes around, our beachhead in travel, and this has just been a hugely disruptive event for our business, and also the industry at large. And so yet again, we kind of see ourselves in a situation where we have to pivot and expand pretty aggressively to make sure that we don’t lose steam and we can kind of continue our trajectory in this space. And so that’s what resulted in the broadening of our go to market, to this discretionary spending versus just travel as it were.

Building a business in Europe [14:37]

Sam Jacobs: What surprised you about trying to build a business in Europe, and what lessons do you think we can take from that and apply to the United States?

Brandon Meyers: A couple of observations. One, what I did experience is that selling is very different in London than certainly the broader market. Coming from the United States, you have this perception as a foreigner selling in these markets that these guys are kind of coming in and they know everything. And it really required me to understand and get ahead of or anticipate the perceptions or stereotypes that may have come with being an American in this foreign world, and how do I take a step back and start with listening versus, “Here, let me tell you how to run programmatic advertising using data,” which is the solution that we’re going to market with. And so there’s a lot more upfront investment in relationships, and understanding the buyer in Europe, that just a lot of times in the US, we kind of fast forward past, and that kind of happens along the way, versus creating that upfront connection. And so that was one of the biggest things that I saw, was that desire and demand to actually know the person before you get into in-depth business conversations. That really was a pretty direct cadence that happened time and time again.

Then the second thing that I learned quite quickly is that Europe is a hugely fragmented market as compared to the United States. And so it was really hard to build programs that would scale, because oftentimes, you have someone that sits in London that is making decisions for the UK, you have someone that sits in Paris that are making decisions for the French market, so on and so forth. Really hard for us to kind of sit in the US and only work in the US, those of us that have, and understand how lucky we are to have one big, consolidated market to go sell into. It’s really easy to create scalable opportunities in the US environment. And then when you get overseas, it becomes a much more fragmented conversation and you have to almost build individual businesses, at least in the category and space that we’re in, in order to be successful across the entire region. And so that was a much different approach to building up a business than what I experienced in the past.

Sam Jacobs: And yet you still, you mentioned 22 million in two years. That’s success, that’s great success. What do you attribute that to? Besides your genius.

Brandon Meyers: A couple of things. One, just being relentless. As I mentioned, the first six months there was a lot of swing and misses, and we just really aggressively worked to make sure that we had an opportunity to start to convert some of the customers in our pipeline over to trials, and then happy long-term customers. I think the next thing that was really critical was, you cannot discount the need to actually hire locally as well. And so it was really important for us to find a French person in Paris that knew our business, that could represent us there. Because there were just some rooms that I would never be able to get a seat at the table in, because I don’t speak the language or I don’t fully understand the culture. And so it would not only be arrogant, but just kind of a miss for me to believe that I can kind of follow a script or a cadence of hiring people that kind of reflect what I’ve seen in the past.

It really had to be a much more broader view of hiring locally and making sure that the folks that are representing our business in those markets really, truly understand the culture, can speak the language and those sorts of things. It’s tough to get people to come and take a shot at an American startup where they don’t know who that brand is, but just by luck or tenacity from a recruitment standpoint, we’re able to get the right people in the right seats to be able to move the needle forward for our business.

Critical skills for success as a Chief Revenue Officer [19:58]

Sam Jacobs: What skills do you think have been critical to your success as a CRO?

Brandon Meyers: I think one thing that was really important for me, and something that I’ve heard from my colleagues and peers in the C-suite now, is that from day one, I was someone that showed up and had a sense of ownership over the portion of the business that I have control of. I wasn’t there to simply do a job, I was there for the benefit of the company. And that attitude in that mindset really allowed me to be in a place where I was heard and seen in a way that was meaningful. Because it was genuine and it was authentic. It wasn’t a matter of me saying here, what can I do to make my position in this company a little bit better? But how do I show up every day and make this company better, and how do I make the people around me better? And it was that mindset in the attitude that I think really took me from A to Z in my trajectory in the business, and that attitude never changing.

I think the other thing that was pretty important for me and certainly something that I’ve heard pretty clearly from the rest of the C-suite as well is that I have a hunger and desire to continue to learn and evolve my craft, and that’s pretty important, particularly when you kind of look at the way the world’s evolving today, right? New markets are forming and disappearing at an incredibly rapid rate, and so you have to be able to understand, contextualize what’s happening today, but also anticipate what changes are going to be critical and relevant for tomorrow. And that’s something that I’ve really always had a keen eye for, is to understand or anticipate how the market will evolve, and what can we do to make sure that we’re in a place to be able to weather those changes.

And so I think those are some of the things that I’ve kind of gotten me to a place where I’ve been able to grow and accelerate my career in the organization, and it really just boils down to complacency. A lot of people kind of get complacent in a role or a situation that’s comfortable. And even in a place where I’ve been comfortable, I’ve never been complacent. I’ve always wanted to push my team and the company to the next level. And I think that grit, that’s kind of driven me to get to the place where I’m at today.

Sam Jacobs: Those are clearly incredibly important attributes. There’s a specific skill that I’m just wondering how you developed, or what you did to become proficient at, which is that managing upwards is something sometimes that people struggle with, and specifically managing to the board and to the CEO. And a part of that is just storytelling around data, storytelling around objective financial information, and learning how to build a budget, learning how to build a forecast, and then of course sticking to that forecast, and telling a story around the numbers but understanding the numbers themselves. Are you just innately mathematical or analytical? Was there training that you sought? Because that’s where I feel like, when I see VPs of sales kind of fall down, it’s because they’re just used to accepting a plan from the CFO, and they haven’t forced themselves to build the skills to build their own plan. What did you do to develop that proficiency and literacy?

Brandon Meyers: I think there’s a boldness you have to have to be successful in the arena. And that boldness has to kind of live and die with, I’m not just willing to accept a number at face value. Right? I’m going to give you a plan that matches with the company’s objectives, and if you want to invest in that plan, then great. Let’s go do it. But at the same time, there are certain things that you aren’t able to do when you have constraints. And I think that’s the challenge, is that some people aren’t bold enough to just put a hard line in the sand and say, “This is what’s possible. I’ve done my math, I’ve done the homework, and I know that this is what the team can accomplish next year.”

And you can always invest in growth. We kind of hear that time and time again in Silicon Valley. But sometimes, companies just don’t want to release the funds in order to achieve that. And I think you have the stance of, can you deliver XYZ with this, and if you can’t, then maybe you’re not qualified. And at a certain point, you have to be bold enough as a leader to say, “I am qualified. I know what I’m talking about. Here’s all of the data to support it. And what do you want to do as a business?” And I think that conversation is really critical, and it also requires a certain DNA of a person to say that I’m just not going to accept blind expectations. You’ve got to do the upfront math, create a story and a plan and a narrative to support all of those things, and get some alignment and agreement about what’s feasible and what’s possible from a business perspective.

I think part of that’s understanding the market that you’re in, understanding your team’s capability and capacity, and then making sure that you’re telling the right story, whether that’s to the CFO or to the board, around what’s possible. And then obviously having the right checkpoints along the way. Right? Are we on the right track? Do I understand my pace of business? Am I on track to hit the goal? Do I have the right pipeline in order to deliver the number, and those sorts of things, and making sure that you do have that transparent conversation with all the necessary parties to make sure that if you are on track people know it, but at the same time if you’re trending behind people know it. And also, am I able to create a plan to say, “Here are the things that we need to invest in as a company to be able to get back on track.” And so those are the types of conversations that I have, both with CFO, CEO, and then also with other interested parties within the company and the organization, to say, “Here’s what’s feasible, here’s the backup and supporting information, and this is the investment case that we need in order to deliver what the company’s goals are.” And then that becomes a horse-trading discussion, right?

Sam Jacobs: Is that boldness just part of your DNA?

Brandon Meyers: I think it may be more nature versus nurture in me, in that I kind of come from a place where certainly not a lot of expectations were put in front of me. And I think that to be able to break free from that requires a bit of boldness. And so I think back to the initial story of, hey, I didn’t see an opportunity for me in Michigan and so I packed up my car and decided to leave that next day, I think that boldness has always been with me to say, listen, this is not good enough, or this is not what it should be, and so let me go out and go figure out what that is and go get it. And certainly not taking no for an answer when it comes to what I believe is possible.

Sam Jacobs: One of the things that you’ve said, and I think we were talking about how to manage your career and how to think about startups the right way, you’ve mentioned being selective over what responsibilities you take on. And that’s a trap that I’ve fallen into myself. And for me, it was forcefully arguing that I should run marketing when I didn’t know enough at the time about marketing to be an effective VP. When you say that, tell me what you’re thinking about, and how it’s exemplified in your career.

Brandon Meyers: I think it’s really about understanding your strengths, and trying to mold your career in a way that emphasizes your strengths as opposed to figuring out ways that you can develop your weaknesses better. And I think that’s a really kind of nuanced discussion that you should have with yourself, right? What are the things that I’m really strong at, and can I get to the place that I want to get to in my career by emphasizing those strengths versus figuring out ways to make sure that I’m this well-rounded player that can kind of do all?

And I think in the startup world, even more so than larger enterprises, it’s very easy to wear a lot of hats and take on more and more responsibilities. Quite frankly, in most of the situations I’ve been in, if you raise your hand you will get attached. And so I think it’s really important to understand that more responsibilities doesn’t actually mean more trajectory upwards in the company. Oftentimes, it means you’re taking on more risk in a way that you may not deliver. And so for me, that was one of the foundational principles in my career is to figure out what am I really good at, and to try to do more of those things, as opposed to looking at the things that I’m not so great at and trying to be involved in those things in a way that may be a distraction to some that are really deeply experts in those spaces. And that discipline I think has been pretty important for me, and certainly is something that I would recommend most people kind of look at from a career standpoint, and how do they build themselves up into an executive.

Sam Jacobs: Yeah, makes a lot of sense. Another thing you’ve mentioned in the past, and this sort of hits a little too close to home for me because I’m from the DC area. But you’ve sort of advised people not to play for the Wizards. Tell us what you mean by that. Because if John Wall’s healthy, I feel like maybe he and Bradley Beal are a powerful combination, but…

Brandon Meyers: Yeah, this is more of a Michael Jordan reference, which is pretty timely with the ESPN special that’s come out recently. But ultimately, Jordan, most people would probably agree is the best basketball player of all time, right? If not one of the best, or however you want to phrase it. And that Wizards chapter was just unnecessary, right? I think he could’ve gone out on top, and certainly did go out in a very special way. But that next chapter, and just saying, “Hey, I need to get back on the court,” or if you’re Brett Favre, “I need to get back on the field,” and maybe I’m pushing it too far. And I think it’s really important for everyone to understand, hey, if you’ve gotten to a place where you reach a certain amount of success, whether that’s in that role or in that company, right?

A lot of startups falter here. I think Groupon, great example of a company that built an amazing kind of runway for themselves in a very short amount of time. They had a $20 billion opportunity to exit from Google and walked away from it, for the hopes that there was something bigger. But ultimately, I believe that success kind of comes in phases, and you have to understand where your crescendo is. It’s really important for you to recognize that, and walk onto the next thing as opposed to doubling back down and playing in a way that you’re kind of playing against the clock. And so I certainly think that’s a good anecdote and a way to live life, is that there are opportunities in front of you, and take them to the top. But it’s okay to walk away at the top as opposed to kind of climbing down or rolling down that next hill, and trying to figure out a way to climb back up.

Sam Jacobs: So how do you feel about Tom Brady playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Brandon Meyers: Yeah, I don’t know that that’s going to end so well, man.

COVID’s effects on Brandon and ADARA [31:10]

Sam Jacobs: Give us your take on the last four months of a terribly managed global pandemic in the United States.

Brandon Meyers: Our beachhead is in travel and so we were on the front end of that. So when the situation arose when the China market got shut off from the United States, then you started to see some of the other countries get shut down from a travel perspective, that impacted us in a pretty dramatic fashion and a very quick fashion. And so as a company, we’ve gone through a huge downsizing, 55% of our staff has been let go as of March. So that hit us pretty seriously. So a couple of things happened. One, as a leader in an organization where you’re starting to see that sort of downsizing happen, it’s tough, right? A lot of one on one conversations with folks to let them know that they were impacted, how they’re being impacted, what the company is or is not able to do for them in their individual situations, and having those conversations very directly and very openly was important, but also was very taxing right? Taxing on me as a leader, taxing emotionally, that sort of thing.

But as a leader, you also have to figure out a way to take the good with the bad, and understand that hey, I have to stand in front of this person and give them some bad news, but if I don’t do that it’s going to be even worse. And those first few weeks, it was really a matter of being super transparent, super honest with the status of the business, the status of the world and what that means for you. And then after that, it was a matter of how do I get people to understand that there’s still value here, it’s not time to jump off this ship, and how do we rally around the opportunity that may still be ahead of us? So those were really nuanced conversations. Some of those were team calls in which it was just a simple happy hour type of conversation.

We had some really amazing discussions where we would have representatives from the global team kind of talk about what specifically was happening in their community. And so being on a call with our immediate team right, and hearing about what’s going on in Dubai, Spain, France, and the UK and all of the different personal experiences was really quite powerful for the team, but also really interesting in terms of just humanity and understanding and seeing the reflections of what’s happening in those communities, and the similarities of the experiences that folks are going through around the world.

And so I think just that general sharing of experiences really helped build camaraderie in a pretty difficult time. And then after that, it’s a matter of how to get people to focus. And so we certainly have a tremendous amount of one on one and group calls even to today to create some sort of connectivity in an environment where connectivity isn’t necessarily encouraged. And so I think there’s just some things about being a human being, right, that COVID has really challenged, right? Challenged some of the norms. And I think companies are kind of being forced in a place where they’re having to address social issues in a way that they haven’t had to in the past. And certainly seeing that both from a COVID standpoint, and then some of the other issues that are going on in the United States more specifically at the moment.

Sam Jacobs: Is that the right place for corporate America, or is it a feature or perhaps a bug of a leadership vacuum do you think?

Brandon Meyers: I think it’s time, right? We’re spending so much of our lives dedicated to our jobs, and even more so now when we’re in this remote work environment. It’s really hard to separate the two, right? I think a lot of folks are feeling this kind of rolling clock at the moment, and it’s really hard to distinguish when is my time versus when is work time. And so at a certain point, I think it’s fair to start to expect your company to care about your life more broadly, because you are being sucked into this world of kind of nonstop work. And again, that line is being blurred between personal and professional life in a way that I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for.

And so I think there’s a number of factors that are leading to a place where I don’t see how companies can ignore their role in people’s lives at a certain point. So I do think it’s the right time, and I also think there’s a tremendous amount of really valuable leaders that we have in the business environment. And they haven’t necessarily had an incentive in the past to address some of these issues, whether they’re social or beyond. And so I think right now when you’re starting to see employees demand certain things in a way they haven’t in the past, companies are forced to react, because that line is blurred between the personal and professional world. So I do think it’s time. I think it’s appropriate, and I think it’s necessary in order for us to really see change, because our economy is really woven into the way that we live our lives. And so I don’t necessarily think that there’s a reason to separate the two at a certain point, given how ingrained and intertwined those two things have become.

People who have inspired Brandon [37:16]

Sam Jacobs: Brandon, before we go, we like to pay it forward a little bit, and hear about some of the leaders or the books that have influenced you.

Brandon Meyers: There are some personal things that I can share, and then also just a more broad thing. So one thing that was pretty critical for me was actually getting an executive coach early on in me taking on the role of a CRO. So there’s a lady by the name of Jocelyn Kung who’s really played an amazing role in just making me a more well-rounded leader, really helping me understand what leading with empathy means, and having emotional intelligence. And I think those things are important. Not only do I think, I think you’re starting to hear society demand empathy out of leaders in a way that wasn’t really mandated or required in the past. And so I do think anyone that’s kind of looking to take that next step in their career, an investment in an executive coach really is something that can be incredibly helpful.

And this person specifically, Jocelyn did a fantastic job, and some of the lessons I’ve learned working with her, both strategically, but then also just kind of helping some of the early critical conversations I’ve had to have with colleagues and other leaders, and helping me just kind of navigate and figure out how do I think about representing myself in those discussions was really, really helpful. And so it’s certainly something that I think is invaluable, and you don’t necessarily have a mentor, figuring out that there’s someone that you can engage in that capacity really is meaningful.

And then in terms of just books and things like that, there’s limitless literature around being in business. But something that I read recently that I found very valuable in the sense of understanding humanity more better is a book called Sapiens. And there’s a lot of lessons in that book that kind of talk about how humans have interacted over time, the role of commerce in all of our lives and those sorts of things. And so I found a lot of just lessons out of that book to help me better understand people, where we’re at today as a society, and how we got here. And having that broader context on the world really helps me in some of these bigger conversations that I’ve had, whether that’s in person or on a stage to be able to contextualize the world and really talk in an informed way about society more broadly. That’s been super helpful for me as well. So to the extent that those things help, I’m happy to share them with you.

Sam Jacobs: Absolutely. Well Sapiens is a great book, and Jocelyn Kung, we’ll all look her up after we stop listening to this podcast. Brandon, it’s been fantastic to have you on the show.

Sam’s Corner [40:51]

Sam Jacobs: Hello listeners. It’s Sam Jacobs, this is Sam’s Corner. I really liked that conversation with Brandon Meyers. This is a man that started off in Michigan, with the odds stacked against him, and helped restructure, rebuild and reorganize this company, ADARA, so that they grew 35% in 2017, 45% in 2018, and broke $100 million in top line sales, and even recreated the product and converted to SaaS in 2019, and are navigating this COVID world in a really impressive way. And Brandon’s attitude, his perspective, his optimism, his leadership, they impress me. He’s an impressive person, and I really think that his attitude and his growth mindset is something that we can learn from.

You’ve got to overcome this fear of failure, right? You’ve got to overcome this fear of being bad, and you’ve got to be willing to sacrifice and willing to fail in order to achieve greatness. And so he inspires me.

The other thing I will point out to you, be selective over what responsibilities you take on. Because it’s easy to wear a lot of hats, but you’ve got to optimize for your career and your role, versus just the title, right? You’ve got to optimize for where you can make the biggest impact. And we talked about it on the show, but I’ve negotiated to run marketing. If you’re not going to be a top five, a top 5%, a top 10% marketer but you just want to be in charge, you just want to boss people around, tell them what to do, you’re not going to be great. Focus on where you can be great.

Don’t miss episode #124

We have two sponsors to think for this amazing show that we just had. One of them is Sapper Consulting, and Sapper has just done truly amazing work with the creation of this REGIE platform. So REGIE, again, revenue teams use REGIE to easily and effortlessly optimize on the promise of sales engagement campaigns. REGIE takes the sequences that you’re running through outreach, they take this information, these campaigns that you’re running to get people to respond to you and to create meetings, and they help you optimize them, because they have the data. They have millions upon millions of rows of data, and they can tell you what stuff works and what stuff doesn’t work, and they can help you optimize these engagement campaigns so that you can make more money and book more meetings, and probably in a reverse order. So that’s why Sapper Consulting and REGIE are awesome.

Our other sponsor is a company called Outreach. They are the number one sales engagement platform. Check them out at www.outreach.io. If you would like to reach me, send me an email. Sam@revenuecollective.com. If you’d like to learn more about Revenue Collective, go to revenuecollective.com. Revenue Collective is the platform that helps you unlock the potential in your career. Thank you Sapper Consulting, thank you Outreach. You’re two great companies.

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