In this episode of the Revenue Rehab, Brandi Starr is joined by Adam New-Waterson. Adam is the Startup Executive at HYE Partners. On the couch Brandi and Adam will tackle Conscious Uncoupling and the need to Move Sideways to Move Up and why...
In this episode of the Revenue Rehab, Brandi Starr is joined by Adam New-Waterson. Adam is the Startup Executive at HYE Partners. On the couch Brandi and Adam will tackle Conscious Uncoupling and the need to Move Sideways to Move Up and why it’s something CMOs and Marketing Executives should be doing.
On the bleeding edge of technology, Adam New-Waterson has pioneered advancements in marketing automation, sales development, account-based marketing, and product-led growth for 15 years. He’s implemented his own advice and transitioned to Head of Product and Interim CTO for sales and marketing solution Stack Moxie.
In this episode, Adam New-Waterson and Brandi Starr discuss transition in professional roles. Like the song goes “You've got to know when to hold 'em” and “Know when to fold 'em”.
If you’re a CMO or Head of Marketing who is considering new opportunities, or recently found yourself actively looking for a new role, this episode can help you determine answers to questions like: What is the best time to move on? What is the right way to untangle yourself? What is Conscious Uncoupling and why it makes sense for your career to implement this strategy.
Have radically candid conversations with the other executives you partner with. “Don't burn bridges,” Adam says, “stay in good graces with your board, but man, when it's time to go, it's time to go”. Take stock of yourself and the result of those conversations because this gives you the info to Trust Your Gut.
The term ‘best practices’: Adam shares “if you only do what you have been taught you will only be as good as the person teaching you taught you”. And since this buzzword was previously mentioned in a Revenue Rehab Podcast, Adam offers a buzzword banishment bonus; drop military and sports related terms, let’s just talk about what people are doing without that forceful terminology.
Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.
[0:34] Brandi Starr:
Hello, hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr. We have another amazing episode for you today. I am joined by Adam New-Waterson. Adam lives at the bleeding edge of technology. For over 15 years he's pioneered advancements in marketing automation, sales, development, account-based marketing, and product-led growth. He's an expert having worked across e-commerce, marketing, advertising, and fashion technology companies to market in the enterprise. Adam rarely says no to a challenge and that spirit has led him to move into product management last year. He stretched even further when a chance came up to lead Engineering. He is now the head of product and interim CTO for sales and marketing solution Stack Moxie, where he's leading are learning every day and is having a great time. Adam, welcome to Revenue Rehab, your session begins now.
[1:44] Adam New-Waterson:
Can I just say I love that intro and I would love to be on a couch with you hanging out. That sounds like an amazing time to me.
[1:53] Brandi Starr:
We will have to make that happen soon.
[01:57] Adam New-Waterson:
[Inaudible 01:57] again.
[01:58] Brandi Starr:
As in say yes. So for those that are not familiar with Adam, Adam is one of my favorite people, and such a unique and positive spirit. So I am really excited to have you on the couch today and to talk about the conscious uncoupling for CMO's. But before we jump into that, I like to break the ice was a little whoosah moment that I call buzz word banishment. So tell me, what industry buzzword would you like to get rid of forever?
[2:33] Adam New-Waterson:
So my answer is actually best practices. But somebody already said that like a week ago. So I'll just say on best practices, if you only do what you have been taught, you'll only be as good as the person teaching you. So since somebody already said that I'll say, let's banish any military or sports related terms from our vocabulary. So let's get rid of all of the softening the beachheads, all of the air cover, all of their balls, etc. and let's just talk about what things people are doing, instead of using metaphors.
[3:11] Brandi Starr:
It's so funny, the air covered just came up in conversation the other day, and it was like, are we attacking our prospects? Is that what we're trying to do here?
[03:22] Adam New-Waterson:
[03:22] Brandi Starr:
We're not supposed to go to war with them. It's supposed to be more collaborative. So I am with you in that I am a fan of not using military references. I can say the sports references are going to be a stretch for me.
[3:43] Adam New-Waterson:
Well good luck. We're all our own journeys.
[3:46] Brandi Starr:
I'm a football fan, so I use a lot of a lot of American football analogies. So that one, I can try at least for this conversation to put all of my football references in the box, and we will banish all of those military and sports references there. So now that we've gotten that off our chests we know what we're not going to be talking about today. What brings you to Revenue Rehab?
[4:16] Adam New-Waterson:
Sure. You and I were having an offhand conversation about consciously uncoupling from businesses and kind of knowing when is the right time to move on, what are the early indicators of this perhaps isn't the right opportunity for you, what do you need to do in order to have self care and respect yourself? And then what is the right way to disentangle yourself from the sticky situation?
[4:46] Brandi Starr:
Yes, and although I didn't have your walk on music cued up, I can give people some clear lyrics that speak to this where you got to know when to hold'em, you got to know when fold'em, oh jeez, I'm messing up the lyrics!
[5:04] Adam New-Waterson:
You got to know when to walk away, you got to know when to run.
[5:09] Brandi Starr:
I practiced that song like five times this morning to make sure I didn't botch the lyrics. And here we are. But me botching lyrics just speaks to who I am as a person. So no one who knows me will be surprised by that fact. So that's a good way to put it. And I believe in setting intentions, it helps us focus it gives us purpose and it also lets our audience know what to expect. So what are your best hopes for our talk today? Or what would you like to be different after this session?
[5:44] Adam New-Waterson:
I guess I would just say trust your gut, no one to call it and give yourself the grace that you need to -- sometimes it feels like you're taking it on the chin. When you accept that this isn't the right opportunity or chance for you, it feels like a personal failure, but give yourself the grace to know when it's time to move on.
[6:05] Brandi Starr:
Okay. So holistically, we are really talking to CMO's head of marketing, around transition in their roles, and when they've kind of hit that place where it's no longer working for them. And because I know that conscious uncoupling is not necessarily a term that is well known, giving a definition from -- really, I looked at InStyle Magazine had an article which is not the best reference, but wanted to find a really, really simple definition for this. And it says, helping people to put the pieces of their lives back together after feeling like a bomb went off. And this term is most often used for relationships, especially as it relates to divorce. So help us and you know, it's great that we're pulling in real life therapy terms into Revenue Rehab, but help us for those that are not clear on how this applies to your career. What does that conscious uncoupling mean?
[7:10] Adam New-Waterson:
Who was the movie star who made this term famous? Do you remember?
[7:14] Brandi Starr:
Was it Gwyneth Paltrow?
[7:16] Adam New-Waterson:
It was Gwyneth Paltrow. So it was when Gwyneth Paltrow got a divorce. Rather than saying divorce, she said she was consciously uncoupling. And so there was just something amusing about that idea for me that you can be intentional about, about your removal from the situation in a way that maximizes your impact for the company and doesn't burn bridges along the way.
[7:47] Brandi Starr:
I think just as people and committed people, we generally get to the point in roles where we know, it's not totally working for us anymore, but a lot of times people just want to stick it out, give it one more shot, wait until this. And so they have this undying loyalty to just stay in a situation that they know is not good for them. And then I think you also have some people that have a fear of moving into the what's next? What are your thoughts there?
[8:27] Adam New-Waterson:
So absolutely. I think there is a fear-based emotion, that is the kind of primary driver of sticking around a place too long. So on the one hand, it is, I'm just waiting for my next stock vesting cliff, or I need to make sure for my resume that I'm with this company for four years, or I need to be able to prove this next milestone so that when I go for my next role that I can be able to demonstrate X, Y or Z. And oftentimes, you know Brandi, marketing is an interesting function to be in these days. Because it has created a slightly toxic environment for a lot of senior leaders who are leading teams. We've gotten so data driven in marketing that sometimes people especially CEOs forget that there is both art and science to marketing, and there are subjective and objective things that we bring to the role etc. And so more of the story is people often get stuck in this kind of toxic place with either colleagues or the role or their teams etc. And what would be best for everybody involved is to have a new person come in and have you go to a different place.
[10:03] Brandi Starr:
And I think there's an emotional component there that I want to talk about, because that recognition that it would be better for everyone, for you to move on, can sometimes feel like failure. In that, you know, I'm not good enough, I'm not this, I'm not that, as opposed to, I've just completed my assignment in this role. How do you tackle that? How do you avoid that negative talk track that can sometimes go through our heads when it is time to move on. Because I know that happens a lot in relationships and how people end up staying together way longer. They're like, oh, I knew 10 years ago, we should have gotten divorced, it's like, well then how did that next 10 years happen. There's always reasons but I think the same is true in your career. It's like, you're there and it's like, okay, I need to stick this out, otherwise, I've failed or otherwise this. How do you combat that to go into something completely different?
[11:11] Adam New-Waterson:
And I guess my answer is it's natural and it's going to happen. So instead of maybe combating it, embrace it, recognize it, accept it and move on. So I think that a lot of people internalize that failure as it's going to go on my permanent record from elementary school, sort of thing. It's not on your permanent record. I almost did a military term, but sometimes your tour of duty has ended and it's time to allow somebody else to have the reins.
[12:00] Brandi Starr:
Yeah, and I think about a concept that my great grandma used to always talk to me about. And she would always say that people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime. And I think that is also true about our career. Because there are some jobs that you have, and it's for a reason. There's a skill you needed to learn or a person you needed to meet, and your tenure there may be short. And then you have places where you're there more of a season and recognizing that okay, my season has passed. I mean, I don't see lifetime in the workforce as much anymore, as it was like in our grandparents' years. But that is a really difficult thing to do.
[12:51] Adam New-Waterson:
Yeah, I think that's an important idea to push on a little bit because there are invaluable things that we each learn from every role that we're a part of. Whether you were there for three or six months or six years, there are invaluable things that we learn from every role that we that we engage with. And job hoppers get this really bad rap for being disloyal, they don't stick around any place for long enough. But we should instead be thinking about the wealth of knowledge that people have, when they have a bunch of different experiences. One of the things that really scares me when I look at somebody's resume is they've only been at one place for the last 15 years. They are not going to know how to scale and be a part of a different environment. It's going to be a real culture shock for them to move on to any new place, where you see people who have been in a role for two years, two years, two years, sort of thing. I look at that and think, wow, they have seen a whole bunch of different experiences, and they have a wealth of wisdom they're going to bring to this role. It's a positive for me in some ways, and not just a negative around loyalty.
[14:11] Brandi Starr:
I'm definitely with you there. Because when I see someone with shorter tenures, and I don't mean, three months here, three months there, but to me, that tells me they're mastering that role fast enough that they're ready to move up, move over and move on. And I do see that as a positive and it also means that they are bringing diversity of thought in terms of different company structures, different industries, all these different things that are extremely valuable when you come in. And for anybody listening, if you haven't listened to Episode Eight, I talked to Maija Hurst, and we talked a lot about the role of the CMO and how you grow the people on your team and that aligns very much as well. How do you give them what they need, so that they can move up or move out or move over. And she definitely talked about how sometimes talking to an employee about how they needed to leave the company, and no longer work for her can be tough but valuable. But I do want to shift gears a little bit, and I want to talk about your progression. Because I know you were in CMO roles, you did the fractional CMO thing for a while, moving into product marketing, and now product engineering and interim CTO, that is... From CMO to CTO, that's not a combination that we see often, or almost ever. So clearly shifting industries or not industries, but shifting functions is a big deal, and I know something that you have not taken lightly. Help us to understand how that came to be was, you know, was it a methodical plan moving forward? Did things kind of just happen?
[16:07] Brandi Starr:
So I have been on a career trajectory in my own career path to start a company at some point in my life. And so that has been one of the things that I've had as my longer term goals. And to be perfectly honest, I've always thought that career path went through revenue. So becoming the Chief Revenue Officer as the person who run sales and marketing together, and then and then after demonstrating that I can carry a bag and make sure that people on my team hit quota, then I would progress to a place in which I could become a CEO. So if I kind of rewind a bit to do right before the pandemic happened, we're having a lot of conversations about what the potential impact of this virus in China would have on global supply chains. I was in fashion technology at that point. So everybody else in the US was like, huh, what's a virus and I was like, what's going to happen to the world. Our whole executive team was having really in depth conversations about what the impacts of this would be two, three months before, most people in the US even knew that there was a thing going on. And so I transitioned away from that particular business, and in turn decided to become a fractional CMO. And so I wanted to pick up the story from there. I think one of the great things about being fractional with businesses is this idea of being intentional in your unconscious or in your conscious uncoupling. So one of the things that I love about being fractional is saying, hey, I'm going to work on a particular project with you for three months, and then after three months, we're going to pause, and then we're going to see if there's a new opportunity for us to work together. And this has created just a really great dynamic between me and my clients because we're really strategic about what we're going to go accomplish during particular time period, there are measurable goals and end products that that we expect from the engagement, and then we stop. And so as opposed to a lot of CMO roles where you sort of like you hit this plateau and everybody knows there's a plateau, you know it's plateau, the CEO does plateau, and then you're awkwardly looking at each other at the dance, who's going to be the one to be the first person to go make this happen and transition along. Now you have forced time based considerations in order to make sure that you're being prompted to move along when it's appropriate, or when it's the right time. One of the service offerings that I have in my professional capabilities or capacity, is I do CEO advisory where I work with CEOs in particular about how to talk to and work with their marketers to help their marketers work better for them. And so one of the things that really strikes me is that CEOs and marketers don't speak the same language. They don't often have the same understanding about a problem set or considerations of what actions can be done in order to do things. And quite frankly, there are a few people in business who need to and can understand the complexity of marketing. Marketing is one of the most complex functions in a business, because of the just explosion of technology we've had over the last 15-20 years. And more than just technology being a driver of complexity, we can do anything without marketing. It is the art side of things. And because you can literally take a sheet of paper and turn it into something, we can do anything but it also means that our roles are infinitely complex. And that level of complexity doesn't sit well with other people on the team, especially CEOs. They don't understand why we're making everything so difficult. Basically. So one of the things that I really love from my role doing CEO advisory is I get to talk to the CEOs about what are you expecting from your marketer? How do you speak to them in a way that helps them understand this thing that you're trying to say to them? How do you make sure that goals are measurable? That you can determine whether or not they are actually instantiating the thing that you're giving them as feedback? And then would you know, when it's time to move on? How do you get them to the next level or get them out of your business? And so just helping them kind of navigate through the complexities of having seen your marketing leaders and making sure that they can partner effectively with them in a way that helps their marketers create great value for their business and makes everybody happy in the process, etc?
[21:30] Brandi Starr:
No, that makes perfect sense. So we went to fractional CMO and what was that connection into product engineering? That's [inaudible 21:42], we got all the dots, those are the two that I want to connect.
[21:48] Adam New-Waterson:
So I'm really fortunate, I'm pairing with a great CEO, M.H. Lines. She created this company called Stack Moxie, which fits really squarely within my experiences of marketing and revenue technologies. And so what Stack Moxie does and not that this is a pitch for the company or anything, but we're looking at this monopoly, or all of these technologies, and how they're all individually doing their own things, and making sure that all of the dots are getting tied between all of these technologies, such that they are making the business outcomes that we were trying to have happen, happen in the way that we expect them. One of the challenges a lot of my clients have is that, system one was called Salesforce, and system two was called Marketo, and system three was called outreach, all have their own workflow, they're all doing their own things. And they're all happening at the same time and nobody knows which system is doing the one thing because we have one admin for Marketo, one admin for Salesforce, a different admin for outreach, and they don't realize that all of their workflows are smashing up against each other, causing problems, and they don't know what to do to fix it. So the moral of the story is, it was almost a year ago, I was the CMO of Stack Moxie. I was working with my team of three marketers and at the end of the day, I was like proofreading blog posts. And I was like, this is not the greatest value that I can be delivering to the business. I'm sure that that posts on LinkedIn are very important, but whether we see they are or they're or whatever small changes, I was actually making, this was not the thing that was going to materially impact the trajectory of the business. And so I went to M. H. and was like, hey, either I can stay here, I can continue to help you in this marketing world, or I can take all of the years of experience that I have in technology and I can bring that to bear in the product side of things. And so, in kind of late August, early September of last year, I transitioned to leading product. And that was that was a really great and fun experience. I still lead product to this day. But I'm thinking about what are the business needs that my clients have? What is the market? It's all things from Product Marketing, from the things that CMOs care about, they are all of the things that we are all living and breathing every single day in our marketing roles. Now, instead of using those same concepts in order to sell a product, I was using the same concepts in order to make a product. And so instead, I moved into this product role, I was helping shape the roadmap, how I take over engineering, which just so happened. That one was not planned. I saw the writing on the wall in the same way that this whole conversation about consciously uncoupling, I saw that the engineering leader determining whether or not he wanted to consciously uncouple with the business. And I was watching that process roll-out, I was already thinking in the back of my head, oh gosh, what's going to happen? Am I going to take over this team? How's this going to work, etc? And so when I got the phone call that the engineering leader had put in his notice, I just went, yep. Okay. Let's go, it's a new challenge, etc. most of the people in my family are software engineer. So I reached out to my brother, my nephews, and we're like, what are the tips and tricks that you have for me for leading an engineering organization, etc. And man, what a fun ride it has been. Engineers and salespeople are about that, like polar opposites in an organization I used to have. I went from salespeople who never stop talking about anything they can possibly be talking about to engineers who don't want to talk about anything unless they have something very specific to ask about. Just getting them on the money conversation, or money calls to be like, hey, one thing from your weekend, what did you do? Something fun happened in your personal life? So we know anything about each other, has been an interesting challenge from moving from the people in sales who are -- So anyways, moral of the story is, it's been a fun thing to, again, consciously uncouple from marketing. I don't know that it's a permanent thing. I could definitely see having another role in marketing. But if I'm on a career trajectory to start my own company at some point, maybe this is just the right step in that path that that I needed to take.
[26:48] Brandi Starr:
Okay, so that does make sense and you gave me a number of thoughts, and really, it sounds like you recognize not only when you need to consciously uncouple, but you also see it when other people are going through it, even though they may not recognize it. And I find that it's kind of a superpower. I don't know what you could do with that but understanding that if there are people listening, that are kind of having that aha moment where it's not like they're in a toxic environment and there's the pressure, like, I got to go now, but that they're starting to feel like my season may be up or I may have accomplished the reason that I was here. Any thoughts on how you really start to recognize when you're in that place?
[27:45] Adam New-Waterson:
So it's funny, you mentioned superpowers, because I do consider it my superpower to be empathetic. So understanding people's emotions, perhaps even before they do is something that I've always sort of considered my superpower. It's also great for marketing, being able to invoke and utilize emotions in content and copy, being able to play with people's emotions sounds a little brutal. Marketing is influence. We're influencing people through the things that we do. So if I think about CMO exit strategies, what's really important is getting disentangled without damaging your reputation along the way. And so how do you recognize it, you feel burnt out, you're not super happy. When you wake up on a Monday morning, you're not jazzed and energized to get up and go to work. Maybe a Tuesday morning, maybe Monday is a little unfair, and we all feel that way for everybody. But when it's a Tuesday or Thursday morning, and you are not excited about the challenges that you have to go out to solve then, maybe this is a time that you should start thinking about whether or not it's your right role. One of my friends just recently left a large public company, he had gotten so far away from the things that gave him joy out of his role that after four or five years with them, he felt like he was a bit soulless in his job. And so he came to me and was like how do I know when it's the right time to move on? How do I do that? And so I had a couple of thoughts for him about how do you disentangle yourself as a CMO without burning bridges long the way.
So three do's and three don'ts. Three do's: frame your exit as your personal career aspirations. When you're talking about my career trajectory goes through these places, it's less about that company and more about where you are going. Talk about the market opportunity that you see within a different category. Or finally, talk about the company mission and how those values align to your own values. And so those are three positive things that you can talk about when you are disentangling yourself from business. On the flip side of things, quite often, you'll have to do exit interviews with the CEO, the HR and the board. Your lead VC will want to know why are you choosing to leave a particular CMO role. So don't say things like, I didn't like the CEO. That is one you just don't say to anybody involved. Two, don't blame it on the product. I think that's a really weak position to just say, oh, well, the product doesn't work, or bla bla bla, the markets not ready. While those might be true things, talk about the market opportunity for the new place rather than saying bad things about the current opportunity for the company. And then finally, don't focus on the company culture as being the primary driver of why you want to move on. And so if you frame things as a company mission, or the market opportunity, I think people understand a lot more why you're making the choices that you make and I think they're a lot more forgiving about those choices. Because at the end of the day, you have to remember, every single person you've ever worked for or with, is a backdoor reference for you, for any future employers. The last company that I went to they called the 11 people to do reference checks on me, which probably should have been like, hey, this isn't the right person. And if it takes you 11 calls to determine that this is the person you want to partner with. It's probably not the right person, you should just like not engage in the first place. But they will always call and they will call many, many jobs back. So make sure that you were always staying in good graces with every person that you work with. Because burnt bridges burn you in the end.
[32:35] Brandi Starr:
Yes, and I mean, I think the summary of that is be a good human. The dolts that you shared they're not difficult things, don't throw people under the bus, be kind, be kind when you're honest is one of our communication tenants. It's one of those not that difficult.
[32:58] Adam New-Waterson:
Yeah, in our current American ethos, they appear to be more difficult concepts to some people, just the idea of kindness. So I like to reinforce for people that it is an important thing to just remain kind to the people around you.
[33:17] Brandi Starr:
And so talking about our challenges is first step, nothing changes, if nothing changes. And in traditional therapy, the therapist gives the client the homework, but here at Revenue Rehab, we'd like to flip that on its head. And I think you gave a good summary of the takeaways, but I'd still like to ask you for the one thing. I always like to give our listeners the one thing that they can do today to make a change. And so if someone is considering conscious uncoupling, unsure if they've reached that place, what's kind of that one next step for our listeners?
[34:03] Adam New-Waterson:
If you're not having radical candor in your conversations with the other executives that you partner with, first and foremost, like that is the thing. Have tough, crucial conversations with your CEO, with the people that you know, maybe it's your head of sales that you're not quite jiving with in a way that you would expect. Have those critical conversations in order to determine like, hey, is there something that we're going to work through or not? Sorry, I know you asked for one, but like, you know, maybe an executive coach is somebody that you too need to partner with to have that business therapy session in order to make sure that this is not a good fit. And then finally, just trust your gut. Know when to call it, know when to move on, you know inside your heart that this is now the time for you to transition. Don't burn bridges, stay in good graces with your board, but man, when it's time to go, it's time to go. So do it.
[35:09] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. So I would say to kind of distil that down into the one thing, what I'm hearing is your first thing is really to kind of take stock of yourself in understanding what you're feeling, so that you can figure out what those tough conversations are and who you may need to be talking to. So does that sound fair as a one quick takeaway that everyone can do?
[35:35] Adam New-Waterson:
Yeah. Quick takeaway is trust your gut.
[35:38] Brandi Starr:
There we go. Trust your gut. I love that. And Adam, I have enjoyed our discussion but that's our time for today. So thank you so much for joining me. This is one of those topics that directly applies to career but there's some good relationship advice in there too. So people are trying to multitask with this episode, we kind of hit the nail on the head there.
[36:04] Adam New-Waterson:
15 years, just saying.
[36:06] Brandi Starr:
Yes, which is impressive especially in this day and age, but a whole different topic for a different day. Thanks everyone, for joining us today. I hope that you have enjoyed our conversation with Adam. Can't believe we are already at the end. We will see you next time.
You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning is just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenuerehab.live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.
Adam New-Waterson lives at the bleeding edge of technology. For over 15 years he’s pioneered advancements in marketing automation, sales development, account-based marketing, and product-led growth. He’s an expert having worked across e-commerce, marketing, advertising, and fashion technology companies to market in the Enterprise.
Adam rarely says no to a challenge, and that spirit led him to move into product management last year. He stretched even further when a chance came up to lead engineering. He is now the Head of Product and Interim CTO for sales and marketing solution Stack Moxie, where he’s learning every day and having a great time.