Revenue Rehab: It's like therapy, but for marketers
Dec. 7, 2022

My Journey With Mike Simmons: An Uncommon Career Path to GTM Leadership

This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by Mike Simmons, Fractional (CRO) Sales & Success Leader at Catalyst Sale. Mike has worked in high growth tech companies over the past 22+ years as an individual contributor and leader. With pivotal roles at...


This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by Mike Simmons, Fractional (CRO) Sales & Success Leader at Catalyst Sale.

Mike has worked in high growth tech companies over the past 22+ years as an individual contributor and leader. With pivotal roles at UPS, SmartForce (acquired by SkillSoft), O’Reilly Media, and with clients such as Intel, Microsoft, MIT, the Walt Disney Company, Full Sail University, and a number of early-stage start-ups.

A coach, an enabler, and a leader who knows that legacy is built through developing better leaders, Mike’s work is built on a combination of processes, frameworks, methods, tools, & applied thinking. He helps business leaders and founders find clarity, stop second-guessing the work they do, and take the next logical step.

In this week’s episode, the second installment of Revenue Rehab’s my journey series, Brandi and Mike discuss his unusual path to the present in My Journey with Mike Simmons: An Uncommon Career Path to GTM Leadership.

Bullet Points of Key Topics + Chapter Markers:

  • Topic #1 From Sales to Operations to Market [11:20] Mike shares how his short stint in sales showed him it wasn’t for him, and he quickly moved from that into a long-term role in operations at UPS. He knew he wanted to learn beyond the Operations side of things, and, after being turned down for an internal role that would have helped him with that shift, he began to pursuit a position at SmartForce, which employed his acquired ops skills with a marketing slant in e-learning.
  • Topic #2 Career Lens: Balancing Opportunity and Capacity [21:44] “Early on in your career you’re going to have flexibility around raising your hand and getting involved”, says Mike. Whereas later in your career, your primary function will be to remove roadblocks affecting your teams’ success.  However, he shares, every stage offers the same wealth of info and knowledge, just from different perspectives.
  • Topic #3 Should I Stay, or Should I Go? [26:35] Mike offers some critical thought points to consider when contemplating your career growth path. Identify your motivations, Mike stresses.  Where are you currently focused? Is it loyalty, ego, trust? That will start to give you information to guide next steps.

So, What's the One Thing You Can Do Today?

Mike’s one thing to figuring out what their career journey is going to look like, is to consider where do you want to go?  Once you determine that, he says, map it out and work backwards from where you want to get, a bit like the Game of Life board game.

Buzzword Banishment:

Mike’s Buzzword to Banish is the phrase ‘category creation’, which is just a reframing of things we’ve done historically.  “I think it creates more confusion”, says Mike. 

Links:

Get in touch with Mike Simmons on:

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Transcript

Outro VO  00:05

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 Tegrity brandy star

Brandi Starr  00:34

Hello, hello, hello and welcome to another episode of revenue rehab. I am your host, Brandy star and we have another amazing episode for you today. I am joined by Mike Simmons, Mike helps business leaders and founders to find clarity stop second guessing the work they do and take the next logical step. He has worked in high growth tech companies over the past 22 plus years as an individual contributor and leader, a coach and enabler and a leader who knows that legacy is built through developing better leaders. His work is built on a combination of process frameworks, methods, tools, and applied thinking. Welcome to revenue rehab, my your session begins now.

Mike Simmons 01:23

Brandi, it is awesome to see you. Thank you.

Brandi Starr  01:26

Awesome, I am excited to have you here. And before we jump in, I like to break the ice with a low Gusau moments that I call buzzword. banishment. So tell me what buzzword would you like to get rid of forever?

Mike Simmons 01:51

There are so many buzzwords. Yeah, that I would like to get rid of forever. This is gonna be a buzzword phrase category creation. Ah,

Mike Simmons  02:06

I'm tired of category creation, which is ultimately a reframing of stuff that we've done, historically, and I think it creates more confusion. So I would like to banish category creation forever.

Brandi Starr  02:24

I'm with you on that. It seems like you know, I'm like, as if there aren't enough magic quadrants. Everybody, like aims to create a category. And it's like, for some businesses, it does make sense. Like, especially in tech, you look at all the different categories of technology that have evolved, like, there are some places where it does actually make sense. But it's like, if everybody creates their own super, super niche category, then it's like you're a category of one. And what does that really mean?

Mike Simmons  03:03

It's like, what if, what if we focus more on the problems we solve rather than the way we want to organize our technology to brand it?

Brandi Starr  03:15

I mean, yeah, and I think, you know, getting rid of the word category creation, I think about the trickle down of that. It's like you start to up end the whole analyst relations and the way that analysts work. And, you know, I don't know that anybody other than the analysts would be upset by that. You know, sorry, to all the gardeners listening. But yeah, it's like, because to me, that's where the category creation comes from, is how do we get the analysts to talk about us as this new thing that we drove? So awesome. So now that we got that off our chest, I promise, I won't say category creation, at least for this conversation. We can now talk about why I asked you to join me. So you are one of my my journey guests. And I started this series because there's so much as leaders, that we can learn about how others have progressed in their career. You know, I think about when I was a little girl, you know, there were very few career options. It was like to be a teacher or a doctor or a lawyer and accountant, you know, still all of the ones that my grandparents preached to me. But it was always a very logical, like, linear career approach. It's like you do this, and then you get promoted to this and this and this and then you work your way up to this one thing. And in reality, you know, one, there's so many more careers than what people realize. But for no one it's never really linear in that way. You move up, you move sideways, sometimes you step backwards, sometimes you take a couple leaps. And so I know you have a really interesting career path to go to market leadership. So I'm excited to dive into that. And so my first question for you is, I believe in setting intentions, it gives us focus, it gives us purpose and most important, it gives our listeners and understanding of what they should expect from our conversation. So what is your intention? What would you like people to take away from hearing about your career journey,

Mike Simmons  05:36

the that there, that it is a journey, and it will meander, you will go there will be ups and downs, you will go back and forth, there will be lessons learned. What, as long as you continue to focus on next logical steps, and take action relative to those next logical steps, you will ensure that you keep learning, keep testing and keep moving forward. So my intention is that we pull it back to next logical steps and realize that those next logical steps won't always be apparent. But once you've identified them, it's it's really important to do the work and take that action.

Brandi Starr  06:16

I love it. So let's jump way, way back. And you know, something I always find interesting is when you were a kid, so so as far back as you can remember, what did you want to be when you grow up? Because I'm sure you know, as a little kid, you weren't like, I want to be a go to market leader.

Mike Simmons  06:38

Yeah. A little kid, I wanted to play hockey for the islanders, like that was it like I was gonna play ice hockey for the islanders, and I didn't have the the talent, skills, all of the other stuff, to be able to do it. But that's that's what I wanted to do. When, when I was when I was a kid. As I started to get a little bit older, I had no interest in getting into sales, like I did not want to get into I wouldn't even call it revenue, I just didn't want to get into sales, because I that was what my dad did. And and it didn't, it wasn't the route that I wanted to go. It just didn't, it didn't seem like a comfortable thing. There was a lot of stuff going on inside the family, there was just all of this and I attribute it with the role that he was in, not with the profession. So I wanted to be a hockey player, I would have loved to have played for the islanders back then, you know, in the 80s, they were winning Stanley Cups, and I did not want to get into sales.

Brandi Starr  07:41

So that makes it clear that that was not the path. So tell me about the start of your career. How, you know, how'd you get started? You know, how did you find yourself in sales?

Mike Simmons  07:53

Yeah, so I actually ended up getting into sales didn't really think about it as sales, but it was I worked at dial America telemarketing for a very, very short period of time while I was at Arizona State University, and I needed to generate money. And that was the that was where you could walk to the facility. There were a lot of kids from school that were going there. And that was my first entry into kind of telemarketing and talking to people and having people just show up on a dialer. And, and in that instance, what I was what I was I was the person who would interrupt you, in the middle of your dinner would ask you we try to sell you children's books. And yeah, that was my first that was my first entry. And I actually got fired from that job. And, and I miss remember whether it was fired or quit. But it was one of those one of those things where the I was told that I was doing it wrong. i i Because I was going off script I wasn't following the stuff that was written. And I was having what ultimately better conversations and more conversions. But I wasn't doing it the way that they wanted me to do it and needed me to do it and had everybody else inside that kind of meat market farm doing things. So after that I ended up joining, I end up getting a job at UPS and I was at United Parcel Service for seven years after that. So I've kind of found my place in operations and operations management and as a part time supervisor after a quick stint at dial America and that reinforced to me that sales was not my thing. That was not the thing that I wanted to do because especially if you had to do it the way that everybody else was doing it just wasn't that wasn't going to be for me.

Brandi Starr  09:54

Okay, so you went from I mean, it's funny you said telemarketing was you know your are a sales job, and that it was short lived. Because I do think that that's a very common path. I know I got into what I thought was, you know, they tell you there's all these career paths. And then our learning process was they had us in a grocery store parking lot trying to sell knockoff perfume. And I lasted a half a day there. That's awesome. It mainly was only you know, it was mainly it lasted half a day, because there was no Uber and things back then. So it took me that long to figure out how I was going to get out of there. Because they just kind of dropped us off in some random part of town. And that was the training for what was supposed to then be a telemarketing job. So it was, you know, it's definitely a bait and switch. But most people that I know, that started in some sort of telemarketing role, it was very much like this is the convenient job. They target college students, and I didn't last very long. Okay, so you're at UPS, seven years. Sounds like that was your first sort of stint in leadership as a supervisor in an operations role. So how did you then shift from like, what was the experience in being an operations and then somehow getting to go to market?

Mike Simmons  11:27

Yeah, so I applied for a job inside ups in a, it was a sales role inside a logistics component that we were starting up at that point. And the reason I shared this one, and I'll get into the what I ended up doing over at SmartFlex afterwards, but reason I shared this one is because I didn't get the job, I when I went through the personality assessment, it became clear that I would not be successful in sales, that according to their rubric, their their measurements. So however, I answered the questions, whatever I did, I was not the sale I was not I was not made out for I was not made to be in a in a revenue role or a sales role. And I stayed in the business for a little bit of time. And then I found this company that was a little bit closer to where I lived. And at that point, we lived up in Cave Creek, Arizona, and this company, brought together technology, which I like playing around with technology and education. And I like educating and helping people be a better version of themselves, like that's my mission, help people be a better do the things they want to do better and faster. So I found this company in the Scottsdale airport called Smart Force. And they were doing this thing that they called elearning, back in 2000. And I just sent resume after resume after resume into the organization just to get in the door. Because I thought, I can't believe that there's a company that exists. That does that focuses on learning and education and technology and brings those things together. And my first role there in the spirit of category creation, and there's nothing new except for what has been forgotten. My first role there was as a learning consultant. And ultimately, I was responsible for implementation success across inside a large number of customers, smaller market customers that we had in the Northeast, and today you would call that roll customer success. So Newsflash, everybody, we actually were we thought about customers being successful, and we wanted them to be successful long before the customer success. And I always said we were going to touch the buzzword, but I'll say it Customer Success category creation happened.

Brandi Starr  13:47

So that's, you know, that's an example of a good category creation. Okay, so that was your foray in to a, you know, somewhat sales role in customer success. And I know you were there for some time, before you really, you know, moved into more of a leadership role. And so talk to me a bit about that transition from independent contributor to leader because I know that that is, that's generally a catalyst for a lot of people. And some people succeed, and others not so much.

Mike Simmons  14:29

Yeah, the coolest. So I was fortunate enough, I didn't work for this person. His name is Brian wichtiger. He was smart force at the time, we were acquired by a company called Skillsoft. We now are larger. We're kind of a larger was a small organization buying a large organization. There's we and the context here is that I moved into different roles. So I had I went from an inside role to more of a regional learning consultant role to a strategic account consultant, working with really large customers. And then my perspective on In sales shifted, I actually saw people who were functionally working in these roles, helping organizations solve problems, not trying to convince people to do things. There was no trickery, there was no, there was no script that everybody had to go through it was it, it was cool to see that at an individual level as part of as part of multiple teams, I didn't get an opportunity to lead until after I left Skillsoft and joined a company called O'Reilly Media. The reason I mentioned Brian, though, is one of the things that was neat about what Brian would do inside the organization, as he was always put into different groups to go in and solve problems. So as you think about your journey, as you work through potential roles, raising your hand and getting involved in some of the thorny problems and challenges that exist inside an organization can create amazing opportunities for you to get access to other people access to new roles, build other skills. So it was cool to see Brian do that. When I went to O'Reilly I wanted to be that person. So anytime there was something new that came up, we were moving into an emerging market, we were looking at taking on a different challenge, I would raise my hand be known as the person who could help solve those problems through people process and, and I am taking an operationally oriented design oriented approach to doing this. And I was fortunate enough to get my first leadership role there. One of the cool things about being in O'Reilly is they created an opportunity for me to move into different roles over an eight year career. So I was seven years at UPS seven years at Smart Force, and then eight year smartforms skills up. And then eight years at O'Reilly. And in the time at O'Reilly, I was both an individual contributor, I was a leader of the account management team. And when I, a leader of our channel, team, and then my last role inside that organization, I was vice president of our Americas team and I had responsibility, both direct and indirect, relative to what we were doing across North Central and South America.

Brandi Starr  17:13

Okay, so Okay, so it was I was thinking it was at Skillsoft, that you got your your first cut your teeth, so to speak. But it was the next role. Yes. And so then your next organization, I believe, is where you then made it into the C suite. So, and most of my listeners are going to be heads of marketing. So they are either, you know, CMOs VPs of marketing. In some cases, directors who aspire to get to the CMO level. So talk about that, because I know that that was a little bit of a different industry, as well.

Mike Simmons  17:56

Yeah. So I was fortunate enough to be a chief revenue officer inside a cybersecurity company focused on human factor risk, the name of the company was cybersafe. And I was the CRO there from the beginning of January 2021, through December of 2020, when I left that left, that business, it just wasn't wasn't the right fit for me relative to the things that I wanted to do broadly inside inside the market. But I would not have been in a position to be successful in that role. And I would say that I was successful in that role and say, my team members would say the same thing. It just wasn't the right fit for me, as we were, as I wanted to go forward. The success that I had in that role was primarily driven by the opportunity to work across multiple functions inside each of the organizations that I had a chance to work with before, the relationship that I had with finance, with the relationship I had with engineering, the relationship I had with product, the relationship that I had, with HR functional areas across the business put me into a position where I could better empathize with what each of the leaders in their functional area were dealing with inside the organization. Had I not gone across the business in my at my time at O'Reilly as the VP of Americas and work across finance and product and engineering. Had I not done that I would, I would not have been able to put myself in the shoes of other leaders inside the business and be an effective leader at the at the CS at the C suite. So if you're looking at that as a career progression, something that you want to do identify opportunities where you can shadow where you can work together, where you can engage with other leaders throughout the organization in other functional areas and understand how does the work that they do impact the business from their perspective? What how did they think about the work that you do? What would they like to see different Like relative to the work that you do. And if you go into those discussions with an genuine level of curiosity and interest in learning more about the work that they're doing, you will be in a much better position to work with those with folks like them, and other roles inside other organizations, you may find that you need to leave your organization and to get that opportunity had I not left Skillsoft I don't know what my I don't know what the Leadership Progression would have looked like. O'Reilly afforded that option to me, starting catalysed afforded the option to do some of the other stuff that I've done in each of those. But as we think about design, all of those experiences, think of them like Lego blocks that are working to build some masterpiece, and we don't know what the masterpiece is going to look like, when we start, there are no instructions. But as we add each of the individual blocks, we start to see a picture come together.

Brandi Starr  21:00

I love that analogy of the Lego blocks, because that very much is what most people's career looks like. Or I liken it to Ikea furniture, where you got all these parts. And there's kind of instructions, like there's a pamphlet with a bunch of weird looking pictures. So, you know, like, this is the framework if you want to, you know, get here, but it really does, as you add each piece, it's like, oh, this is you know, what the was what this thing is shaping out to be. Before we talk about what you're doing now it catalysts you hit on something a couple times that I want to, you know, dig into a little bit. So you had talked about the thorny problems in being able to, you know, your career growth comes in those opportunities, of getting involved in where you see problems. You also talked about the importance of really working across multiple functions. One of the things I see today, and you know, as a consultant, I've got my hands in a lot of different organizations of different sizes, etc. One thing that I see often is the Not My monkeys, not my circus kind of mentality of I see these problems, but I've got enough on my plate. I know the problems need to be solved. But I don't know that I can be the one to jump into these other things, those thorny problems. And so how do you balance? You know, the opportunity, because I do agree, like a lot of my career growth has come from me sticking my nose into problems that nobody asked me to be a part of. But how do you balance that, you know, getting that experience getting involved making those connections with the fact that you still have a day job? And those thorny problems may not be yours?

Mike Simmons  23:03

Yeah, this is all hard stuff, like it is it is hard stuff. The reason that problems exist, is because it could be a number of reasons could be there's just not a priority inside the business to go ahead and address it. It could be that we're applying old thinking to the same the the thing that created the problem itself. There are a number of reasons why problems will continue to persist inside organizations. Early on in your career, you're going to have more flexibility around raising your hand and getting involved in working on those problems. later in your career. Your primary function is how do I remove or unblock some of those problems so that my team can go out there and do the work that they're doing? So I would look at it through two lenses, the early career lens and the later career lens. On the early career side of things. Take advantage of the flexibility, ask questions, engage with others, share perspective on what you're seeing, not opinion perspective, based on what you've gathered. Working with customers, one of the cool things about being attached to revenue inside any organization is it is the lifeblood that will keep that business going. You the the revenue is not generated by people inside the organization, its customers who are buying, so you have access to those customers. You can gain insight and perspective from customers and share that information inside the organization. Again, not your opinion. But summarizing perspective based on the data that you've captured. So it's an individual contributor, it's going to be the path is going to be a little less complex because you can raise your hand and get involved. On the senior leadership side. This is where things get really challenging because now not only do you have teams of people that you're that are working on certain things inside organization, those teams are working across with other teams inside organizations. And one of the things that drives me absolutely nuts across senior leadership teams is the Not My monkey, not my circus problem there where, Hey, that sounds like a revenue thing, I'm over here focused on product, I don't need to worry about the revenue thing. You do. Because if the product isn't delivering what we need, from a revenue perspective, the revenue won't be there. And it's not about revenue, trying to exert pressure and demonstrate and tell product, how to do their job, it's about sharing insights, a product can do their job better. And if I, as a leader on the product side, or on the revenue side can start to or on the engineering side inside the organization can actually come in and start to look at some of these problems with a different perspective, I might be able to ask a question that helps reveal a blind spot, that helps us actually change the way that we think that helps us actually start to do different things, that helps us actually get those things done. And I've got resources of people inside my organization, who Oh, by the way, might want to raise their hand and be involved in helping work on that problem and do the work. So that's where I can start to build scale and capacity and do those things. So I think I'd look at it from both perspectives, the individual contributor early career, and who wants to raise their hand and let people know, and then the senior leader later on who can help with a different perspective, and then knows those resources that they could potentially bring in.

Brandi Starr  26:35

And I think the other option, the other thing that you talked about that I want to dig into a little bit, is you talked about there not being a clear growth path in some companies, and leaving for opportunity. And so I know, I mean, obviously, once you get to the C suite, then you know, there's not necessarily a next step. But for those people who have not yet made it there, this is something that I hear debated a lot, which is, you know, longevity at one company, where you're able to grow and move versus jumping ship and going somewhere else, where you may get that opportunity faster. And so, you know, looking at your career progression, you've definitely had like a clear linear, where you're consistently stepping up all the way back from telemarketing. And but you've also had long tenure at most of your organization's so I'd love your thoughts about you know, for people who were, you know, in that decision point of how long do I stay? Or, you know, and even for some people in the C suite, this you know, if your C suite, small company, sometimes that up is C suite, larger company? So, what are your thoughts on how people really think about that?

Mike Simmons  27:53

Yeah, get a magic eight ball, shaking it around, and ask that question I so you can ask the magic eight ball the question, or, and, and sometimes that's gonna, that's going to work for people. Because the reality is, you don't know, you don't know until until until you know, and until you're inside the organization. And I know, that's a hard thing to reconcile with, because it's not helpful. It's not useful. So when we go through and we break down decision making, what I tried to do is apply a couple of different frameworks or tools. And it depends on the specific decision that I'm making. One of the most common ones that people are aware of, is the Eisenhower matrix, where and that one folks will use relative to do I do something? Do I decide whether or not to do it? Do I delegate it to somebody else? Or do I do I eliminate it? And that's about give, you're basically using two axes. One axis is whether or not something is urgent. And the other one is whether or not something's important. Another way to apply the same kind of framework is just change what the names of those accesses are. Is it high impact, or low impact? Is it high effort or low effort. So now I've got again, and we can do this visually. And actually, I have a whiteboard that I could use and start drawing up. And if you've had, you'll see this used a lot in other things. But what I'm the point that I'm making is, let's look at the challenge that we're running into across two dimensions. The reason I want to look at it the thing across two dimensions, is if I say so focused on one, I'm going to create some bias and amplify blind spots relative to the decision and I'm going to really struggle with struggle with things. The hard part about all of this is figuring out what are the two dimensions that I need to look at this through. So the two dimensions that I like to use number one, does this thing bring me an urge Eat, or suck the energy out of me by when I get done in the conversation, it is just so excited to go out and do more of it. Do I really like engaging with the people that I'm engaging with? Do I get high energy out of the discussions? Or do I walk in and think, Wow, I'm never gonna get that time back. I, I'm so lost, this shouldn't have been in this could have been in an email instead of a meeting all that kind of stuff. So high energy low? And what kind of energy energy exchange? The other one? Is? Our are these is this something that I am really, really, really good at, or something that I struggle to do so really, really good at doing? Is it a skill? Is it a capability of mine? Or is it not a skill or capability mine. So then when I look across this, if I'm inside an organization where I am getting high energy, but the thing that I'm working on is not really good, and it's really, really hard, maybe I'm not in the right place, or I need to find some other resources to help me figure that stuff out. If it is something I'm really good at. And my energy is just sucked dry every day that I'm engaged in a conversation, maybe there's someplace else where I can go, and I can find that energy. So two dimensions, figure out what your two by two looks like. And then use that to help with decision making. A third thing to add, because I like to put these things in groups of three. A third thing to add is be acutely aware of the things that have gotten in the way of your self, when you've made poor decisions or when things haven't worked out. For me. They're three things ego, loyalty, trust, ego, loyalty, trust, if, if ego is involved in the decision, I need help, I need to get somebody else involved in it. Because I've got my own personal blind spots around it. If loyalty is involved in the decision, I've got to get help. I've got some blind spots around it. If trust is involved in the decision that I've got, I'd then I go out and I asked, I asked for some help. Because I'm high trust, relatively high ego, and super high loyalty. And all of those can start to influence pieces. That's why I spent as much time at companies like UPS and at companies like Smart Force Skillsoft, and companies like O'Reilly. And in each of them, I look back and I say, You know what? I learned everything that I could I got a lot of experience, I probably could have left each of those organizations a little bit earlier than I did. So then ask yourself that question. Am I Am I still learning? Am I gathering information? Am I Am I advancing? So that way, I added in a couple of other things in three, but there you go.

Brandi Starr  32:57

Yeah, it's interesting, like, although I've never actually put it on a grid, when I think about my own career, it is the energy and the learning. And in some cases, it's energy in the income because I am very motivated, money motivated, and I have a need to consistently be learning. And that energy thing like that is been the key driver for me, if I look at when I've left companies is when the it becomes an energy suck, and there's no more joy. I'm like, that's where it's time to go. So really, really interesting, I love that as a way because you know, people are always figuring out like, is it the time for me to go do I you know, continue to invest here. And so, the last thing that I want to ask about is catalysts. So, I know that you know a lot of people once they reach the C suite do start to explore you know, fractional roles or starting their own company or what that you know, next evolution is. So what was the catalyst to you starting catalyst.

Mike Simmons  34:06

So catalyst is it, the catalyst was I had always wanted to start a company and didn't have the guts to do so. And then found a business partner to work with. Both he and I worked at O'Reilly, we started catalyst back in 2015, left our day jobs and in 2016. So the last time I've had a real w two role was 2016. In that catalyst is evolved. First it was let's build revenue teams inside Oregon inside our organization and sell them back into organizations and that there was too much risk on both the employee, our side and the company side. So it wasn't a good model. Then started doing that inside organizations and then actually joined one of those organizations full time that was the one I mentioned earlier cybersafe as the chief revenue officer, after helping them go through an a round and then just To find, taking that leap. And ultimately, I realized that wasn't the right fit, I wasn't leading at the level that I expect that of someone of my capability with a lot of the energy type thing, it was at a team that was in the UK, all that kind of stuff. But it was just, it's the, it's all been an evolution, the only way I was able to have been able to keep the business moving along, and the way that it's moving along and have the success that I've been able to have inside the business is through the network connections that I've created. So referrals that happen out in the marketplace, demonstration of capability in each of those experiences that people have had with working with me. So this is a body of work where I picked up a bunch of Lego pieces over time. And now I just keep rearranging those Lego pieces and creating opportunities to go in and help organizations who are struggling with the things that I've found a knack for helping people solve for which all tend to rotate around Leadership, Culture, revenue, and execution, Leadership, Culture, revenue and execution. So that's kind of the arc and the end in the journey, I wouldn't be able to do this as effectively as I'm able to do it. If I didn't have all of that experience, if I didn't have mentors that I've worked with, if I didn't have teammates, who pushed me if I didn't have hard lessons learned relative to leading people. If I didn't make mistakes, I didn't fail. So this is the continuation of all of that work. And that's how it will continue to evolve.

Brandi Starr  36:41

That's amazing. Yeah, it's always interesting when people get to that point where it's like, Okay, it's time to do my own thing. So talking about our challenges is just the first step and nothing changes, if nothing changes. And so, in traditional therapy, the therapist will give the client some homework, but here at revenue rehab, I like to flip that on its head and ask you to give us some homework. So for those that are listening, who are, you know, figuring out what their career journeys going to look like? What action item would you give to everyone?

Mike Simmons  37:18

Yeah, so I think a lot of people have played a play board games. They're one board game that's out there is the game of life. And, and one of the cool things about the game of life is you meander around the board, you never really go backwards, you meander around the board, you continue to advance. Now, when I say meander, you might kind of move around, but you never lose things that you've picked up, you've lost any of that experience. So I would think about your career as your career journey as your game of life. What is the end look like? What is it? What is Z look like? We're Where do you want to go long term? Where are you at today? Where's a, a is where you're at today, z is where you want to go? Well, okay, if we understand each of the steps, broad steps, kind of like get driving on a road trip. And we understand all the broad steps from the end of the game to back to we designed backward from Z to A. Now let's go ahead and start taking the next logical steps A, B, C, and D. So the homework is think of this journey as your game of life, map it out on a board that looks just like the game of life, it works, work a couple of steps backward from what things look like when you get to the end of the game. And then identify what is going to be necessary for you to get to that next gate. And that's how you'll define those next logical steps. Once you've defined them, you have to take them, you have to do the work, because what you will find is that next logical step may be wrong. It may not get you closer, if it but now you know. So now you take a different path. And then you continue to rework the problem and get closer. So design backward, execute forward. Focus on those next logical steps. And if you're, if you struggle with visualizing this, just pull out the game of life. Play the board game out there, start changing some of the blocks on there. And, and, and and lay out some pretty cool waypoints for yourself.

Brandi Starr  39:24

I love that. That's one game. I enjoy playing. I enjoy playing with my kids. There's always so so many lessons in there. Especially when they land on that card that gives them all the babies and they see how much that costs.

Mike Simmons 39:42

Maybe your babies are expensive,

Brandi Starr  39:44

but yeah, that is I have four young adults. And so I tried to be really, really clear like kids are expensive. They seem fun, but let's not do that. But that's a whole different, whole different conversation for a different day.

Mike Simmons  40:00

We had that conversation. Well, we just had Thanksgiving dinner tonight, that conversation over a couple of weeks now. But the there's no babies, we don't need them. Right now I've got a 17 year old and a 20 year old. So we're not, we're kind of in that, that tween space. Another thing that I think people are so if our kids leave the house with a high level of self confidence, and a high level of self awareness, I felt like we've done our jobs as parents and I still, we're still working on doing that job. But let's simplify that. And think of how you apply that in the work that you're doing. As you design for this journey that you're going on as you move toward, go to market leadership, which might be the C suite, or it might be going out on your own. Or it might even be being the best high performing individual contributor at your specific area. That requires self confidence and self awareness.

Brandi Starr  40:59

Yes. Awesome. So our action item is to define our Z and to work backwards, and actually take those steps. Well, Mike, I have enjoyed our discussion. But that's our time for today. But before I go, tell us how can our audience connect with you?

Mike Simmons  41:19

Yeah, the best place to find me is on LinkedIn. And if you search for Mike Simmons catalyst, you'll you'll find me there. I'm actually all of that whatever the LinkedIn URL is, I'm actually Mike Simmons, I was on early enough to be the mike Simmons there. That is the that's the best place to engage with me. If you happen to use Twitter instead of LinkedIn. Simmons underscore M is where I'm at. And if you like barbecue, revenue, a lot of the stuff that we've talked about that, that's a good place to follow me. Those are the two places I'd love to send people to thank you.

Brandi Starr  41:55

Okay, so I gotta  spend a little more time on Twitter and learn about this barbecue. I was I like to eat. Well, thanks so much for joining me. And thanks, everyone, for joining us today. I hope that you have enjoyed my conversation with Mike. I can't believe we're at the end. See you next time.

Outro VO  42:20

You've been listening to Reverend rehab with your host brandy star. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenue rehab dot live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram at revenue rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.

Mike Simmons Profile Photo

Mike Simmons

Fractional (CRO) Sales & Success Leader |Business Advisor

"Mike helps business leaders and founders FIND Clarity, STOP Second-Guessing the Work They Do, and take the Next Logical Step. He has worked in high growth tech companies over the past 22+ years as an individual contributor and leader.
A coach, an enabler, and a leader who knows that legacy is built through developing better leaders. His work is built on a combination of processes, frameworks, methods, tools, & applied thinking.
Mike understands the importance of defining strategy (the How), and turning that into tactics (the What): it’s one thing to know what to do, it’s another thing to do it, and know what to do next. Mike has worked at UPS, SmartForce (acquired by SkillSoft), O’Reilly Media, and with clients such as Intel, Microsoft, MIT, the Walt Disney Company, Full Sail University, and a number of early stage startups & entrepreneurs. "