December 15, 2022

Build Your Dream B2B Marketing Team 

What maketh a high functioning, well connected B2B marketing team? 

In this episode of Renegade Marketers Unite, we welcome three CMOs who share their approaches to shaping, growing, and nurturing their marketing organization in tandem with business growth. Get ready for some winning wisdom from these three CMOs:

What You’ll Learn in This Episode 

  • How 3 different CMOs structure their marketing team 
  • How to connect remote workforces 
  • Recruiting and retention tactics

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 323 on YouTube 

Resources Mentioned 

Time-Stamped Highlights 

  • [3:01] Melissa Goldberger: United Nations to CMOing  
  • [4:27] SafeBreach’s marketing team   
  • [6:35] When SDRs report to marketing  
  • [8:21] Connecting SafeBreach remotely  
  • [10:40] James B. Stanton: Laser-light Instruments to CMOing  
  • [12:34] Empyrean’s marketing team   
  • [15:10] Are 7 direct reports too many?  
  • [18:18] Connecting Empyrean remotely   
  • [20:51] Jamie Walker: Door-to-Door Sales to CMOing  
  • [22:59] Keyfactor’s marketing team   
  • [24:26] Bring in an executive coach… while things are good!  
  • [26:18] College athlete = better time management   
  • [28:33] Connecting Keyfactor remotely  
  • [30:47] CMO Huddles thoughts  
  • [33:20] Retention!   
  • [38:35] Recruiting!  
  • [43:23] Tips for building a stronger marketing team    

Highlighted Quotes

“Our structure is really aligned to the growth of our sales team.” —Melissa Goldberger @safebreach Click To Tweet 

“Step out of the way and let each individual own certain areas.” —Melissa Goldberger @safebreach Click To Tweet 

“What’s really important for me and for all of us on the team is to create clear roles & common goals. I like it because it rhymes, but it also works really well when thinking about how to set up a team.” —@stantonibus @empyreanbenefit Click To Tweet 

“Let your team drive their own destiny. When you have that kind of attitude as a manager, you'll find that your team always steps up and is grateful for the chance to thrive on their own.” —@stantonibus @empyreanbenefit Click To Tweet “Really focus on how your team is growing as you add more people, how that team dynamic changes, the communication style.” —Jamie Walker @Keyfactor Click To Tweet

“Make sure that you're investing the time to understand the different personalities and how everyone is inter-woven and everyone’s goals on the team.” —Jamie Walker @Keyfactor Click To Tweet

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Melissa Goldberger, James B. Stanton, and Jamie Walker


Drew Neisser: Hello Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. You’re about to listen to a recording of Renegade Marketers Live, our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles, a community that’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. 

This time we’ve got a conversation with Melissa Goldberger of SafeBreach, James B. Stanton of Empyrean, and Jamie Walker of Keyfactor. In this episode you’ll learn all about how they structure their marketing teams, how they build culture remotely, and what they’re thinking about recruiting and retention. You also get to learn about their super cool paths to CMOing. It’s a great episode—Let’s dive in! 

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: I’m your host Drew Neisser live from my home studio in NYC.  In his seminal book “Good to Great” business guru Jim Collins identified that a great leader’s first priority is getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. Even before figuring out where the bus should be going, great leaders assemble great teams. And most CMOs will agree that they are only as effective as the teams they build.  But as with most things marketing, its just not that simple. First, hiring experience direct reports has never been harder especially if you’re looking for a head of marketing ops and a head of product marketing. Second, given all the roles marketing can play, figuring out the optimal org design is a challenge for even the most experienced CMO.  Over the course of 4 huddles in December, we reviewed the org designs of dozens of huddlers, and not surprisingly, no two were exactly alike.  Some of these variations reflected the company’s target markets while others the priorities or biases of the CMOs. So on today’s episode, we’re going to tackle of brewing a strong B2B marketing team, looking for tips and tricks you can bring to your organization.  

Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, the top rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing obsessed individuals. You’re about to listen to a recording of Renegade Marketers Live our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles a community that sharing, caring and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. This time we’ve got a conversation with Melissa Goldberger of Safe breech JSP Stanton of Empyrean and Jamie Walker of key factor. In this episode, you’ll learn all about how they structure their marketing teams, how they build culture remotely, and what they’re thinking about when recruiting and retention. You’ll also learn about their super cool paths to becoming CMOs. It’s a great episode. Let’s dive in.

With that, let’s bring on Melissa Goldberger, CMO of SafeBreach. Hello, Melissa!

Melissa Goldberger: Hi, Drew, how are you?

Drew Neisser: I’m good. How are you? And where are you?

Melissa Goldberger: I’m actually in Palm Beach, Florida. So yeah, one of the only positive effects of COVID, moving.

Drew Neisser: There you go. I was looking at your LinkedIn profile and noticed that you actually started your career in the United Nations. And I’m pretty sure that’s the only CMO I know who did that. Can you talk about that experience and relate to, maybe, how’d you end up in marketing?

Melissa Goldberger: Definitely was not where I thought I was gonna be after college. I thought I was going into the Foreign Service, I’m going to save the world. I got my job at the UN and basically, was tasked with creating—9/11 had just happened, there was funding around bringing a program called Global classmates rooms into Inner City Public Schools. So I was tasked with starting our New York program. So it meant everything from recruiting teachers in public schools who were like, “I have enough on my plate.” Maybe you remember No Child Left Behind. That was all they cared about with the tests. And we had a bring over 1000 students into this program. And we had 2,000 our first year. And my boss said, “Well, now I need that in my 3 other cities.” Where she had other consultants. Over five years, we grew to 26 cities, it was a pure marketing play. And it was mostly marketing to the public schools, the teachers, and the foundations. So it taught me not only the B2C side, right, of working with the teachers, but the B2B side. Because we were also integrating with partners, we had our funders, and I spent my first half of my career in nonprofit. Like what a crazy ride is that to be a CMO to say?

Drew Neisser: Right, yeah. To go from the UN/nonprofit and then nonprofit to very much for profit.

So fast forward to your role at Safebreach, can you provide an overview of your team structure, how many direct reports you have, and what areas they’re serving?

Melissa Goldberger: Yeah, so our team structure—I’m reporting into the CEO. As a team total right now we’re 13. Now we have 4 more open recs, and we’re going to be 20 by the end of the year. I have 6 direct reports now. And it’s pretty much your typical, right? We’re heavier right now in content and product marketing because we have a huge gap there. Demand gen, we have head of SDR, global marketing—because we have a lot of expansion happening, as well as my favorite one to hire marketing ops and is to your point the hardest.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, but I love the optimism and saying, “Okay, we have 13 now we’re going to be 20 by the end of the year.” What we’re hearing in huddles is consistently in the last 2 months is you make 3 offers, and you could get 3 acceptances and then people turn you down. I mean, it’s crazy. So just hiring 7 people between now and the end of the year will be heroic. And when you think about your structure, what are you feeling good about—what’s working pretty well?

Melissa Goldberger: I think just the overall collaboration and alignment with sales. Our structure is really aligned to the growth of our sales team. You know, I know that horrific hiring right now. When I came on board in August, I had 3, it was myself and 3. We had 6 sales reps. Our sales organization grew from June 2021 to today, it is now 40 with 20 Open recs. So we have to make sure that we’re aligned. Whatever I’m bringing in the team is going to be aligned to deliver. We’re very sales focused and very customer focused organization. And every position I think of is, how many reps is it going to be to a field market? Or how many reps for my content folks? Because we have to be four steps ahead, we have to enter market 6 months ahead of time. So I have to be looking really far out with our CRO and that alignment has been huge, and also internally within the team just creating those interactions. We don’t have silos on my team. I hope we can keep that as we grow. I mean, I’ve had larger teams. When I was at Argyle, I had 40. And we still managed to break those silos within different cross functional projects. So I’m hoping we could still keep that.

Drew Neisser: I really skipped over the fact that the SDRs report to you. Those are sales development reps for anybody who doesn’t use that particular grammar. And not every CMO has them do that. I think it’s a great idea because then you know those folks have to get from what looks like a lead and really make it into something that sales will run with. But it’s a different breed of folks.

Melissa Goldberger: Oh my god yeah. And to your point of those accepting roles and declining SDR used to be my—we grade when we have to hire and how long we think it’ll take SDR I can usually fill super fast. That’s where I had a harder problem with that than Product Marketing. My product marketer, I brought her in in six weeks. She’s fabulous. And my SDRs are amazing. It took fine tuning—and I know I’ll maybe discuss a little bit later—definitely took some fine tuning to get those offers for people not to reject them. Of me actually showing comp plans in the second interview—and me interviewing. Normally I wouldn’t interview an SDR. They have a manager for that. They usually have a meeting with someone in sales up hear. But we found having me interview them really got them excited about their future in which directions they can go. And also being honest about what this role is and isn’t like. Listen, it’s a lot of digging, it’s finding that needle in a haystack. And I’m really proud of our SDR team, they’re amazing. And it’s a newer team for us.

Drew Neisser: It’s interesting. You said a couple of things that I just want to put punctuation points on. The fact that you’re doing the interviewing, the fact that you’re roadmapping with them, and compensation is like crazy so you got to be upfront with that in terms of competitive salary. So all of those things have come up in huddles quite a bit lately. But again, I think the notion that there’s a career here for you, or at least there’s more than 6 months for you.

So let’s see, we’ve covered that. What kinds of things have you done to help your team work together more effectively in the last 6 months, because I’m imagining it’s remote. And this is really challenged. It’s funny, I was listening to a gentleman the other night, who is a managing partner at a huge, huge PE firm. And his statement was, “Look, retention is about staying and working with people that you like,.” But you can’t get people together so how are you creating those bonds?

Melissa Goldberger: Well, I mean, we definitely—we probably have too many meetings. I will say that. There’s definitely a lot of meetings remote. And it’s really stepping out of the way and then letting each individual own certain areas. And even areas where I may be having a gap. I’ll tell you, it’s funny, if you would’ve ask me 10 years ago, I was most organized, your best project manager, like on top of everyone. I used to stay on—I had this one boss, I was like, I will never be that all over the place. I am that all over the place right now. But talking to someone on my team and letting them know that I need their help to lead or weekly project management. To take that, to own that, and to bring those discussions together. So we have the team with quickstand up on Monday. We have a strategy meeting on Wednesday, and that one is my meeting. And that’s it and being respectful of their time. We do get together. I mean, I’ll be honest, we’ve brought in a lot of new people to our team and we did have some hiccups bringing some new people in right off the bat and right when they were what I call a firecracker before it’s an explosion. We were able, you know first on Zoom getting together. Okay, what are the challenges? How can we break this down? And we were fortunate enough where we all did go to Sunnyvale, the entire team sat together as a team and we roadmap the next quarters marketing plans together. And we just actually had our sales kickoff 2 weeks ago. Fortunately 200 people and we all manage to be together. So we’re really fortunate right now in this time that we’ve been able to be together a bit.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, a CMO that I know, brought their team together. And sure enough, that individual had COVID and was mortified that they might have given it to their team. So…

Melissa Goldberger: Oh yeah, we do a lot of testing. We joke that no one tests more for COVID than our team. Even our SCO. We had someone on site doing on site testing.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I know, that’s hard. But that makes a lot of sense.

Okay, we’re gonna come back. But right now we’re gonna bring on James B. Stanton, CMO of Empyrean. Hello, James, how are you?

James B. Stanton: I’m doing well, Drew, and yourself?

Drew Neisser: I’m doing great. I see we are of the standing folks, which I think is awesome. Because you can always tell the people who are standing because their head is like right at the top of the screen. So I was looking at your LinkedIn profile again, and I noticed that you got an MFA from Parsons, and I think invented laser light musical instruments. That’s kind of cool. What happened back then?

James B. Stanton: You’ve been stalking my LinkedIn profile again.

Drew Neisser: I have. You know, searching the world for something interesting.

James B. Stanton: Reeling in the years a little bit there. But yeah, I had an amazing experience at Parsons. And I am a musician. One of the areas that I investigated—this was a digital degree—and one of the areas that I was investigating was laser light control and wavelength and the correlation between sound, digital, and wave. And all these things came together. And yeah, I created some pretty interesting instruments that allowed the user to control how laser light moved through different types of plastics and things that you could see. And then it was all connected through to these sound boards, right? That would trigger sounds on and off. And as you can see, that was a very direct correlation between what I did then and now leading a B2B marketing team.

Drew Neisser: Absolutely! All you’re doing is instead of laser light, you’re sort of using your mind meld technique to get your team to orchestrate so to speak.

James B. Stanton: That’s a word I like to use a lot.

Drew Neisser: There you go. And I can’t help but notice that there is a guitar, I think I see the neck of a guitar back there somewhere.

James B. Stanton: Yes, there it is. I’ve got to get guitar over there. And then I get a lot of grief for the flute that is over my other shoulder.

Drew Neisser: You know, there just aren’t enough flute players. So anyway, let’s get back to 2020 to give an overview of your team at Empyrean.

James B. Stanton: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, by the numbers I have 7 direct reports. Our total team here is of 15. This is a team that I’ve had the pleasure to build since I joined Empyrean in October of 2020. So right in the heart of the pandemic, beyond the numbers, the org structure, I’d be happy to talk about that soon. But my goal in creating a team is to create one that’s highly energized, very collaborative, and that can create and do amazing things together. As a shout out for anyone on my team that might be listening. I mean, I am so lucky and thrilled and humbled to have such an amazing and talented team of people that I get to work with. Interestingly, we’ve really worked hard together as we’ve created this new team marketing is a newer function at Empyrean, as we’ve envisioned it now. And we’ve worked really hard together to create what we kind of call a marketing micro culture. And we’ve even defined something that we call the Empyrean Marketing Way. For those of you that are fans of Simon Sinek, we took that same approach to how we defined our culture with our why or how and our what, right? With our why it’s our mission statement, it’s our purpose and belief as a marketing team. Then how we go about doing what we do and what we bring to the table to accomplish what needs to get done.

A theme that runs across all of that is accountability. And we talk a lot about that right? Having accountability to each other, accountability to the organization, accountability to ourselves. What’s been really important for me and for all of us on the team is to create—you may have heard this mantra before, but clear roles and common goals, right? I like it because it rhymes. But it also works really well when thinking about how to set up a team and an organization. I found that some of you might relate. We marketers we tend to be yes people, right? We’re the folks that are always there to get things done and we take a lot on. And that can get really challenging if we all end up taking on projects that have too much overlap and overlay with what each other doing. So we spend a lot of time making sure that we’re clear on what we’re responsible for. And then how we work with each other to accomplish and what we take take over the finish line. So I’m actually, I’m not sure, I may have deviated Drew from the question.

Drew Neisser: And I’m just gonna make a couple of punctuation points, one of the things that really is important as a CMO that I have observed is providing air cover for your people. And so you got to be the one who says “no” to things. And so you’ve already covered the importance of priorities and accountability. And so there’s always an infinite number of things that you can do. And sales will always ask for yet another presentation or a custom thing or something like that. And if it’s not on the plan, and you’re not all working on it together as part of the thing, it’s just you got to learn to say no. And it’s funny one CMO in huddles mentioned, he’s got 7 different ways of saying no. Which I think is brilliant. So when you think about this real quick, it sounds like a lot of things are working really well. But I’m a little concerned for you. Seven direct reports is a lot like, I think it’s kind of one to many, and I’m just sort of curious as to how you decided on that number?

James B. Stanton: Yeah, well, you know, I think that for me, I like to have a flat organization, right? I tend when I put out org charts and use them in a strategic way, I tend to put out a circle. And kind of my role is the line in between everybody holding folks together, creating direction, reducing and removing friction. And I do like to have a personal connection and a hand in all that we’re doing here, we’re accomplishing here.

It is a large number. But what I’ve also been able to create here, again, with that kind of culture of accountability that we all strive towards, I have a team of experts, right? I have people in my direct reports that are all able to accomplish what they need to accomplish largely on their own, right? Filling in gaps that I have, right? Certainly, I’m not an expert at everything, by any extent. And so I see my role in working with all these folks is to make sure that—to borrow the word that you used earlier—that we’re orchestrated, and that we’re all working against—we use OKRs here on the team, right? So that we all are aligned on our objectives, and everybody brings those to the table. And that’s how I found that, again, keeping a bit of a flatter organization, I feel allows me to be a bit more effective. But you’re right, it isn’t. I have a lot of one-on-ones every week.

Drew Neisser: Well, I was gonna say that’s where it really sort of runs out. You just run out of time because your career mapping. But the punctuation point I want to put on this is as a CMO, particularly if you’re new, and you’re going in, and you’ve been told, “Hey, there really wasn’t in demand gen function here, we haven’t really worked. It’s been a sales driven or product driven organization. And now we want to get marketing the forefront.” One thing that you mentioned is team of experts. And I’m going to stop there and say, as a CMO, if every one of your direct reports really knows that area, you have a possibility of managing your time. One of the expressions I love that was used in one of the huddles was you can’t outwork this job. You simply can’t. So you gotta get team members who are really good. And so the first order of business is going in and building a layer underneath you that can do everything they need to do in their area. So that’s a very cool thing.

So are you back at the office or hybrid or remote? Or what are you doing in that space?

James B. Stanton: Yeah, so when I joined, as I mentioned, and right in the thick of things of COVID. I joined remote, the team was also partially remote already, but a few other folks were out of our headquarters. And what was important for me joining is I really actually wanted to create a team of the best people that I could find no matter where they were. Right back to that team of experts. So that meant that I had to be geographically unbounded, regardless of the pandemic, to be honest. My manager, the chief strategy officer, was very supportive of that. And so we have created a remote team. We’ve got folks all over the country. We do have a very structured way of working together though. We are hybrid—or excuse me, we are an agile marketing team. So we meet on Mondays and do our commits. We meet on Fridays and do our completes. Very different style of meeting and tone as you can imagine, each one of those. And then during the week, we all work off of Trello kind of a kanban style board, which has been fantastic way to keep everybody who’s remote, all of us being remote, together and on the same page and being able to tap help when we need it and share and have accountability and get to the finished project in manageable chunks. But we do get together. We’ve been calling it our marketing residency. We pick one of our offices and we get together. We’ve been averaging with pandemic and some COVID scaring and testing and being more worried that we’ve had some outbreaks. But we try to get together. You know, my aspiration is quarterly or really 3X a year. And those are awesome moments, right? We come together, we have some fun. And we also use that time to think way more expansively to really let the creative juices flow.

As one of my team members said recently, “I think getting together at this rate is enough. Because if we got together more often, we wouldn’t have enough time to get done with the things we’ve come up with it.”

Drew Neisser: Yeah, you wouldn’t miss each other. That’s amazing. Thanks for all of that. Let’s welcome Jamie Walker. CMO of Keyfactor. Hello, Jamie!

Jamie Walker: Hello, Drew. How are you?

Drew Neisser: I am doing great. So where are you?

Jamie Walker: I am in sunny Atlanta. Sunny, warm soon to be very hot Atlanta.

Drew Neisser: Hot-lanta?

Jamie Walker: Everyone who’s not from Atlanta calls it Hot-lanta. I realized a few years ago when I moved here.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, well, and for a good cause. So, again, I was at sort of plumbing your LinkedIn profile and noticed that I think your first 3 jobs were in sales. And I can relate to that having sold encyclopedias door-to-door one year in college, and the year before that I sold Time Life books over the phone. So I get it. I’m just wondering if you think having been in sales made you a better marketer? And if so how?

Jamie Walker: Yeah, so coming out of college, I was your typical athlete who had never worked. So I was like, What am I going to do? So I ended up in sales. And I didn’t carry encyclopedias, but I did have a bag where I was selling insurance, door-to-door in rural Vermont. So I definitely think that teaches you to have some thick skin. You hear “no” more than you hear “yes”. And it also teaches you to live by a number. And so I guess at the time, I didn’t realize that in my early 20s. But now very much later in life, I realized I can respect what the sales team and each individual goes through on a monthly/quarterly basis in having to meet a number to sustain their livelihood. So I think it has taught me a lot to understand the other side of the story, especially now being in the B2B world and working with my head of sales and understanding his team and what they need and how we need to support them.

Drew Neisser: Oh, I love the live by a number. I remember distinctly our sort of coach who would drop us off at some apartment building complex and said, “You knock on 100 doors, you will sell at least 1.” And it was 1 out of 100 you’d sell and you could do that in a day. And then the other thing that I thought was hilarious was the expression, “No callbacks.” And this was one story I just have to share that. So one time, you know, you go in there that you get everybody all excited. They’re ready to do it. And they say, “But can you come back tomorrow?” And our manager said, “There are no callbacks, you’re either sell that moment or don’t.” And of course, the next day I go and you know, they wouldn’t open the door. So no callbacks!

Jamie Walker: That’s funny. I think about that now, Drew, when I’m on calls with vendors trying to obviously get me to purchase software. I’m always like, “I need to think about it.” But at the same time it brings me back to the days where I never wanted to hear that from someone.

Drew Neisser: Exactly, because it really means, “No, not now. It’s not important. I gotta go.” It’s hilarious how those things stick with you.

So talk a little bit about your structure of your team right now.

Jamie Walker: Yeah, absolutely. So right now there’s about 14 of us on the team. By the end of the year, we’ll hopefully be up to 16. I’ve recently hired 5 people. So we’ve I’ve gone through a crazy Q1 of bring on 5 new roles. So I feel like it’s been quite a journey, I was hearing kind of about the direct reports and some of the other CMOs that are here today. And right now I have 6 but I’m so happy to say in exactly 30 days, I will have 4 because I have finally landed that my VP of growth demand gen. So that was a huge blessing for me to be able to find a little relief for the team. But a lot of positive things going on at Keyfactor right now.

Drew Neisser: I want to hear about it! What’s working?

Jamie Walker: I mean, we kind of grew by 100% over last year. I have a new team over in Stockholm, we’ve hired a media lead, we definitely have a strong global presence. So you know, business as usual has changed the way that our team has structured the way we communicate, the way that we get together has all changed since I’ve been a Keyfactor. I think similar to other people I started in the pandemic. I came on, we had a small team, it’s been growing.

And we’ve had the challenge of growing in a way. We always grow, we align with sales. So that’s going really well. Our numbers we’re always meeting them. But you have to really focus on how is your team growing as you add more people? How does that team dynamic change? How does the communication style change? Where do I as a leader need to insert myself? Where do I back off? So I have invested heavily on just really focusing on building the team but from a place of understanding the personalities and communication that needs to happen. Bringing executive coach. I brought an executive coach. I budgeted this year so I can have someone that could really help us focus on what does it take to sustain—and I say sustained because I have a very functioning team right now. Everyone is high performing, but as you grow and as you add new personalities to that that changes. So it’s about understanding everyone’s role, which I think is what we do by nature as leaders but also understanding like how we need to work? What are our operating principles as a team? What are our goals internally for being able to grow and sustain the demands of the business that we all know as marketers, we get day in and day out, but also making sure we’re cohesively moving in the right motion?

Drew Neisser: I think it’s so interesting that you have—so here’s your team, you’re describing, everything’s really working, and you bring in an executive coach while things are good. First of all, I admire that. I’m wondering how was that greeted by your boss? And how did you package and position that because I think a lot of CMOs would love to do that, but don’t necessarily know how to argue for it.

Jamie Walker: Well, I didn’t have to argue for it. It was a coach that worked with some of our executive leadership team. So she was already well established in the organization. And I just had built my case, I had said, “Hey, we went through an M&A. There’s a lot of change that happens in an organization, let alone marketing, and I’m about to bring on a lot of new people. And we have a big year ahead of us. And to do that, right, I want to sustain I want to keep our positioning of where we are today.” I didn’t have to fight for it. It’s my budget. They said, “Okay, sounds good.” And I just make sure that I talked to my boss and say, “Hey, here’s what I’m working on with X person in this group.” And as long as the numbers are met, everyone’s open to a conversation about what happens after that.

Drew Neisser: You know, I’d be remiss and not because you mentioned early on, and I just sort of skipped over that, that you were an athlete. What sports did you play?

Jamie Walker: I played basketball.

Drew Neisser: At the college level?

Jamie Walker: Yeah. So I said, I literally never worked a day in my life until I graduated college. You know, all I had to do was play and you know, it felt good at the time. But when you go into the workforce—I remember I was at school, I got to have a psych degree, I got a Human Resource Management certificate. So I thought I was gonna get into human resources, and I couldn’t even get an entry level job. So that’s kind of like your path is kind of, but it all makes sense. Because I could never picture myself in human resources.

Drew Neisser: I want to do a shout out on this. Because, you know, one of the things I’ve gotten to know over the years is that college level athletes who also graduate with their degree who may or may not have sights on playing professional have to be so organized in order to make it work. Because it’s a full time job being a basketball player or a football player and being a student. So you have a full load. You don’t have a life, you’ve got to be really, really organized. Do you see yourself sometimes going, “Well, I did so much more in college.” Did any of those skills that you learned in terms of time management, you think they’re paying off for you now?

Jamie Walker: They must, you know, I actually never correlated those two together. But I think back on when I was in college, and I had full course load, traveling, practices, early mornings. It was just kind of what I knew. And I think that has created the person that I am, like, how much you can balance and how much you can withstand. And so everyone even now at this point in my life and career, and my team looks like Jamie does it all. I’m like, “Well, that’s just who I am. I don’t really feel like I do at all.” But between work and family and all that it’s just kind of what we do as people. So I do think that there’s a part of who people are in general who get to that level, there’s a mindset to get to that level to play a college sport and kind of be that immerse. So I think there’s a mindset part of it that is definitely carried over with me, and probably is a big reason of where I am today. But I hadn’t really thought about it, Drew, until you mentioned it.

Drew Neisser: No, I think you know, college athletes get a bum rep sometimes. And I’m just so impressed by so many of the ones that I meet, there’s so much more organized and accomplished and goal oriented, and they’re competitive! And those are all really good thing. And oh, by the way, 5 people all of you matter. It’s a team sport.

Okay, as much as I’d like to talk about this, talk a little bit about what kinds of things other than the coach, are you kind of doing to help your team work as a team?

Jamie Walker: Yes, absolutely. So like most people that are here chatting today. Having a team where we’re remote, we’re global, we’re all over the place. And so the business at Keyfactor in general is really great at allowing us to move as we feel comfortable as you feel comfortable traveling. We have all hands meetings monthly in all locations. So one thing that I have done and I allow the team to do is we pick places where we’re going to meet as a team around those all hands meetings. So that’s one way we do it on a monthly basis. Again, it’s a choice. It’s not required that you go but if you want to have human interaction, want to see someone you’ve seen all day on teams any other given day, you can go and meet and then we have dinners around that.

The other thing that I did, which I think it was more around the timing of bringing new people and having a global team, is we had our first marketing global kickoff here in Atlanta back in March. And so the goal, similar to what James was saying, is like, “Yes, we want to have fun!” But it was aligning around strategically. We have you know, 5 new people, we’re already marching to our orders as a business as we’re already basically through Q1, how do we ramp people up? How do we get people to break bread and just build that trust? I think that’s a really important piece of it is building trust with your teammates. And so it was a pretty packed 2 day event. We did a wine tasting where they Sabraged the bottle. That’s where you take the champagne bottle off with a sword. We did one of those things.

Drew Neisser: Oh fun!

Jamie Walker: Yeah, we just made sure we had fun and we worked really hard during the day. And it was an opportunity for the team to be able to talk about what they’re working on. But it was also a chance for us to talk and for me to set the stage of what is their role in the business? And what is everyone’s role and how we’re in this together and the commitment that I have to the team and each individual has to each other. And it was just really powerful. And I think that’s, again, it’s the breaking bread and having wine goes a really long way when you do it often.

Drew Neisser: Really does. And I’m just going to say this for everyone, the connections that your team make and the bonds that they feel will determine how long they stay at your company.

Okay, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna plug CMO Huddles for a second.

Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an invitation only subscription service that brings together elite B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness, we’re asking for like one hour a month to give you a 10 back in smarter, faster, better decisions. We don’t know another CMO peer group that’s actually delivering on the level that we’re talking about here. So check out And I want to bring Melissa, James, Jamie, you’re you’re all huddlers, some of you are more new to it. But feel free to share your experiences with CMO Huddles.

James B. Stanton: I’m newer to this, as you know, but it’s been great. It’s a safe place for sure. I’ve also found it incredibly helpful just to hear about some of the same problems that I’m having and some novel approaches and paths to success. And even if you miss a meetings, Drew provides these great write ups, some of that has been helpful for me and even justifying some of the things I’m trying to accomplish here. So I’ve used or I’ve learned to talk to my CEO and get justification and dollars for things I’m trying to do. So yeah, it’s been it’s been great.

Drew Neisser: That’s awesome. Jamie, Melissa?

Jamie Walker: I’m going to times 2 that on James, because I would agree. For me personally, I’m a bit newer and so I struggle sometimes to always make the huddles, but the email that Drew sends behind it is amazing. I always search back when I have a topic that I’m thinking about, I search back to that and see what are other people saying. But I would also agree that like the ones that I have joined, it’s really nice to have a safe space. We’re all doing the same thing, we all have similar challenges, and it’s nice to either A. not feel alone, or B. learning some new ways to think about things that you may have not been thinking about in that certain way.

Drew Neisser: Awesome. Melissa?

Melissa Goldberger: I love the Slack channel, actually. I am obsessed with Slack. I don’t know what happened. Like last year, I was like, “I hate slack, it was the worst thing in the world.” And now all of a sudden, I’m obsessed with it. But I love the channel in addition to the emails. I’ve always gotten a response when I need something, I feel like there’s always a huddler there to help. And it’s different than some more of the open groups that there are because like, we have a cybersecurity society, which is amazing and I love it. My team’s in it. They’re amazing, they get engaged in it. But you know, I can’t sometimes ask more of those closed questions where I need that safe space. So I love that term safe space. And that’s really what that slack channel gets to me. So it’s really great group. I love the different ways of communication as well.

Drew Neisser: Thank you all for those. So let’s talk a little bit about the challenge of retention. I mean, we literally had a huddle yesterday where one of the CMO shared that a person that they had worked with for 11 years just left because they got a $70,000 increase in raise. And so it’s this reshuffling. And what was interesting is they were losing to large companies like AWS and Microsoft who were just throwing money at people. So I’m wondering if anything that you all have tried has been working on the retention front?

Jamie Walker: Personally, I haven’t lost anyone for someone leaving for more money. I’ve lost people for them growing their careers and going to be CMOs. And so that to me is just joyous. And that’s a happy thing. But as far as I’d say how I feel like I focus more on retention with my the people as I do a lot of conversations around career development, around where we’re at, where we’re gonna go. Just be an open book about it and not have it be like, “Oh, we only talk about this once a quarter.” I generally am pretty, I guess just open with my direct reports and the people on that. I’m very authentic, I’m a feeler by nature, and I’m a chatter. I’m a chatty person as well. You know, I like to build trust, but I also want to be my authentic self. And I think that sometimes that works for organizations and maybe that’s worked for me being able to retain some people who could easily leave me probably go make 70 grand somewhere else.

Drew Neisser: Well, and I do want to just make the point that if you can build a reputation as a CMO maker, that’s a really good thing because you’re always going able to attract that layer right below you that wants to get groomed to be the next CMO. And I think there are a lot of those folks out there. James, anything on your world that’s kind of working from a retention standpoint?

James B. Stanton: Yeah, sure. So similar point, Jamie, right? Having folks leave to go take on, you know, a bigger and better role. That’s awesome, right? That’s a high five moment. I’m kind of in a lucky position right now in that we have been reengineering and rebuilding the marketing team here at Empyrean. So it’s been more of an attraction than a retention.

But I do agree with Jamie, your point there too, right? It’s important as a leader to have a very open and candid relationship with the folks on your team. I want to have those conversations and I make it known I want to have those conversations. If you’re feeling that you’re not connected, if you feel like you’re not getting the growth that you need, or if you feel like you’re under compensated. So I try to give that space for that conversation in oneon-ones. Not every one-on-one. But I kind of pick one, you know about sort of every month-ish kind of cadence to just ask and be open to that. And making sure—another point on the microculture that we have, and feeling connected to a mission. I think that’s also critical for myself included to keep everybody connected, engaged, and all working together for a greater good.

Drew Neisser: Love it. Okay, Melissa, anything in retention, that’s working for you?

Melissa Goldberger: Yeah, I mean, I want to echo what James said about that micro culture. I think it’s really interesting in terms of your team, and that’s really what’s helped retain us. And I actually just fell victim of someone, and it was literally $70,000. On a new hire that left for another role, she was only on board for 3 months. And to be honest, I don’t think it was about money. We had overshot in the role, she was too senior for it. And it was a lesson that I had. But at the same time, she did fill a gap for me—we had a huge gap in comms, she got a lot done in 3 months. And now actually, I don’t have to backfill that position for another 3. So for me, it kind of worked out. But the rest of my team is through retention. And what Jamie said, it’s that vulnerability and authenticity, the team understands, it’s always explaining why if a goal is changing. You know one of the things that our team always faces, they’re like, “Well, why are the revenue targets changing in Q3?” And explaining, well, if we missed a quarter—not that we’re missing—but if we did miss, this is why this is gonna happen. And when we do achieve really applauding the team success. I’m really fortunate that I have a really rockstar team and through my career have had rockstars. And it’s consistently just growing them and molding them as well, and giving them what they need to really take that next step. So I love that Jamie has lost people for CMO roles. That’s, really cool. I haven’t yet lost anyone to  a CMO role just VPs. So maybe a couple more years I’ll have.

Drew Neisser: Very good thing to aspire to. Yeah. You know, what I’m thinking about in all of this is how much work you all are doing and paying attention all the one-on-ones that you’re doing, all the career mapping, all this thinking ahead and helping them feel like you’re a person that does that.

And so this is the moment in the show where we ask, What would Ben Franklin say? And I think he would applaud all of the hard work that you’re doing with this expression. “Industry pays debts, while despair increases them.” There’s no point in whining about any of this. It’s all about what can you do right now to keep your employees happy, build those teams, get them together. We’ve heard a lot of that in our conversation today.

Now I want to flip it a little bit. And the flip side of retention is recruiting, right? Even if you keep all your people you all have openings because you have new headcount that you’re adding because your company is growing. And literally this just blew me away that one CMO and in a huddle 3 offers—this was for a product marketing position—all 3 accepted and then all 3 turned around and took better offers. So what’s working in recruiting besides throwing money at candidates? And let’s start with Jamie, what’s working in recruiting?

Jamie Walker: It’s a good question. It’s almost a loaded question too. Because I feel like some things work some things don’t. For the VP role—so the VP role I just filled—I think it’s more—A. I was very picky about that role. And so it was very long, lengthy process, but it was around just really being tight on exactly who was the right fit for the role for our company. Because a lot of people had the right title, but it was around being the right fit for our company. And I think that is—depending on the role for that VP role. It was more around I had a very constant communication with the right candidates throughout the whole entire process. So making sure that even down to the point in the later stages where it was made clear like if we’re gonna have a text is it okay if I text you? That came later on when I knew that I was down to my few 2 or 3 and I think as long as that was okay, and that relationship established that helped. But I will say I don’t even know if I know what’s working, Drew. I know that I’ve went so far in this recruiting process, it’s almost embarrassing with such a funny story that I sent someone an edible arrangement. I was like, what’s that last mile thing I can do, to say, “We really want you!” And I send someone an edible arrangement. I mean, that is…

Drew Neisser: You know, I mean, I think in this market, you really got to think about this, like dating.

Jamie Walker: It’s like dating!

Drew Neisser: It is! And what’s gonna move this relationship along? And edible fruit may have been the trick. That’s hilarious. But I also heard you talk about hiring for culture fit, which I think is so interesting, because that’s so tricky today. Because you want both culture fit but you also want that person to bring something new to the culture. So that’s tricky. Anyway, James, anything working for you in the recruiting area that you can add to this conversation?

James B. Stanton: I’ll pick up on the— I haven’t tried the edible arrangement, but I took that down as a note—I’ll pick up on the culture bit there because I always make sure with candidates that they understand—and I’m very clear in the interview—that you’re interviewing me, I’m interviewing you, right? This is a 2 way street to a dialogue, you really need to feel comfortable about this. So because we have spent so much time on our marketing team. Defining, as I mentioned earlier, what our microculture is, what our mission is, how we work, I tend to run through that with the candidate. Let them feel comfortable with what they’re going to be a part of, and see how well they react to it. Are they going to like to be a part of our Empyrean marketing team? Or are they going to self select out? So I, again, I think in the recruitment process, being very open, very honest with the candidate about the type of environment they’re getting into. And then, of course, being clear on what the role and the objectives and all of that is critical. That I have found has both helped to get the right candidate, as well as make sure that those who self select out the ones that are like, “Nope, that’s not for me.”

Drew Neisser: Right. All right. So Jamie—we seem to have lost Melissa—So let’s go to this, I’m gonna give you a magic wand. Budgets, not an issue, what’s your next hire in an area where you go. That would really be awesome if I could get that.

Jamie Walker: Multiple field marketers.

Drew Neisser: Okay and why?

Jamie Walker: I would say, with our business, very strong enterprise motion, we have a really great sales and channel and then marketing spend kind of supporting. And I feel like we might be a little thin in areas. And if we had a couple more field markers in specific regions—I know, it’s probably not traditional, to what people would say—I feel like that would have a little bit more connection on some of our markets where we’re trying to put resources where there’s just not a lot of resources. So that’s my personal need.

Drew Neisser: And let me ask you this, because we were talking about this in a huddle that field marketing used to be sort of like kind of somewhere between a salesperson and event person. And now they really need to be marketers. I’m curious, what is that role? What are they supposed to be doing for you?

Jamie Walker: Our field marketers are basically forming relationships with anyone from sales to SDRs, to running events, to running programs, to running syndication programs. They’re very much holistically figuring out how do they put on an event, but how do they—even if it’s an event that’s already past, how are we promoting that in other ways? How are we engaging the channel team? So I think it’s very much becomes a more robust role for us. And within sales, which channel but also bring that back into programs for that specific market that they’re in.

Drew Neisser: All right. Well, we are running very close, late in the hour. So James, give us one tip for your fellow CMOs on building a strong or stronger marketing team?

James B. Stanton: Yes, sure. I’d say, let each of your—specialty your directs—let them drive their own destiny, help them to create and define what that journey is. But make sure that you’re giving them the support that they need. Let them sometimes make mistakes, if they do. But make sure everybody feels on your team that they are running their show. When you have that kind of attitude as a manager you’ll find that your team always steps up and is grateful for the chance to thrive on their own.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I mean, and I think when we go back to the very early part of your conversation, where you have 7 direct reports, the only way that’s going to work is if they really are good at what they do, and they can make your own destiny. So you’ve closed the loop for me. So I love that.

Jamie, give us one tip for your fellow CMOs on building a stronger marketing team.

Jamie Walker: I would say just making sure that you’re investing in time to understand the different personalities and how everyone is interwoven and finding out what are everyone’s goals on the team. And so that everyone’s clear that just because I have a goal to be X, my counterpart might not have that same goal in their role to be the same at the same level or have the same promotion. But it’s understanding their value to the team. And I think that’s more of outside of focusing on what initiatives are we driving this week, this month, this quarter. This is more of taking a step back and saying, “Hey, I want to spend time on really making sure that we understand each other as teammates in a more empathetic way.” So I think that has worked very well for myself and our team. And I would highly recommend that people invest creating that space and time to do that as well.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, we got to the, almost the end of the hour and the word empathy, which I think has been such an important part of pandemic leadership. And I remember early on a CMO saying, “Oh, God, I really have to be empathetic now.” And I suspect you always had to be but never before has that skill been tested in our world of just being empathetic. That’s sort of number one. Number two, what we heard a lot of conversation today is about it’s not just about getting stuff done. It’s about making sure that everybody shares the values and feels commitment to something bigger than say, we got another couple leads into the pipeline. So all right. With that, I want to thank Melissa, James, Jamie, you’re great sports. Thank you, to the audience for staying with us.

To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live, join us on the next Renegade Marketers Live. We streamed on my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me. Audio production is by Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius.

To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about my new book and Renegade visit I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.