At some companies, it can be intimidating to talk to the CEO, President or VP. I’ve been there, and almost always fumbled with what I was trying to say. But one of the first things I noticed at Seismic was how approachable, relatable and friendly our executive team is.
To prove this, and to introduce one of our Boston executives, here is a Q&A session with Seismic’s VP of Marketing, Daniel Rodriguez.
- How long have you been with Seismic, and what drew you to the company?
I’ve been with the company just shy of two years, and I joined for two reasons: the founding team and the product. I believe that I was the first employee that was not from the “inner circle” of folks that had previously worked together. Doug, Ed and Marc (Seismic’s co-founders) had hand-picked stars from their previous days at Document Sciences and I felt like they all seemed remarkably not insane by making the enormous leap to join a startup. If they had faith in this team, I sure could.
The product also seemed kind of like magic. Before joining Seismic I actually called a few customers to make sure it wasn’t just me drinking Ed’s Kool-Aid. The way that senior folks at GE and Sunovion spoke about the product sealed the deal—I had to be part of this.
- How has your background helped you in your role with Seismic?
My consulting background taught me how to ask the right questions and how to tell a story. My finance background gave me an appreciation for the importance of metrics and basing decisions on objective data rather than instinct. While at MIT Sloan, the most valuable thing I did was try to start my own marketing software company, which taught me that building even a mediocre product is really hard.
- What is the most exciting part of your job, and what are you the most excited for this year?
My job is to help sales and marketing people solve some pretty painful problems that lead marketing people to live thankless professional lives and salespeople to spend more time doing what they do best. The most gratifying part of that is hearing feedback from customers and prospects— things like, “I really enjoy reading your blog and receiving your newsletters; they are helpful in figuring out this world of sales enablement.” As marketers, we get to go around the room and give out free back scratches and not have to ask for anything in return.
The other thing that excites me every day is seeing the growth of our marketing team, which is now up to six people (we were three in July). Doing what I can to contribute to everyone’s growth and achievement is so rewarding. When the team beat February’s growth target in lead generation, amid the snowiest month in Boston history, I knew that I was part of a special team that “owned the number.”
- What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced in a startup, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is getting right people on the team (and yes, we’re hiring!). Startups require a somewhat rare mix of self-starting independence and maniacal belief in the mission of the company. You have to be confident enough to take on responsibility and humble enough to admit your mistakes to your peers. It’s very much a meritocracy—hard work is rewarded and politicking is nonexistent. The challenge of finding these folks when you don’t have a full-time recruiter in HR is that I can’t spend all day searching for the perfect people, but I am looking for them as much as I can.
- What are some of the habits that have helped you in your leadership role?
I am transparent with our team’s growth metrics and everyone knows how their role contributes to achieving that growth. When we hit our numbers, just like a sales team with a quota, we celebrate. (We’re tracking nicely for Neptune lobster rolls in April…) I also try to step back and remind everyone, including myself, just how far we’ve come in a short period of time and also where we are going. We’re building a billion dollar company and everyone is on board with that ambition. I also never ask people to do work for the sake of doing work—there’s always a reason, so we manage to avoid fire-drill scenarios and instead have a steady stream of fast-paced activity.
Bonus: Fun fact?
I have been known to sing with the Midnight Goggles, a top-40 cover band here in Boston….