Michael Lazerow is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several successful media companies and invested in 50 startups.
Michael Lazerow, Chief Strategy Officer, salesforce.com
Chief Strategy Officer
Chief Digital Evangelist
Michael Lazerow is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several successful media companies. Most recently in 2007, Michael co-founded Buddy Media, Inc., a privately held company that offers some of the world's largest brands social media solutions. Michael served as chairman and CEO before the company was sold to Salesforce.com on June 4, 2012.
Investor: Facebook (IPO), Tumblr (sold to Yahoo), Buzzfeed, Domo, Bitium, ChatID, elicit, eVenues, Flashbotes, Have to Have, Twice, Mesa Partners, Namely, Pinfluencer, Saving Star, Scopely, Shelby.tv, Social Flow, Social Touch, Tag Man, Copiuous, Social Leverage, Pixel Optics, CeltixConnect, Hill Country BBQ, Poblano Partners, SVAngel, GGV Capital, Have to Have, IA Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Nest.io, RayV, Peoplelinx.
While attending Northwestern University, Michael founded University Wire (now owned by Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)), a network of more than 700 student-run newspapers. He later founded GOLF.com, which was purchased by Time Warner's Time Inc. division in 2006. Subsequent to the 2006 acquisition, Michael joined Time Inc. as General Manager of GOLF.com and GOLFONLINE.com. Michael also sits on the boards of Savored and Saving Star.
Michael lives in New York City with his wife, Kass, who serves as Buddy Media's COO, and their three children, Myles, Cole and Vivian. Michael graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. and M.S. in Journalism.
(00:03) Hello you are watch episode number 95 of CXO Talk. I’m Michael Krigsman with my – I always say this because it’s genuinely true, with my friendly co-host, Vala Afshar. Vala, how are you?
(00:22) Michael, I’m doing fantastic, thank you for asking and I’m super excited about our guest today.
(00:26) I am to, but I have to tell the audience, I always as that you’re my friendly co-host and we were just talking that the truth is you are much friendlier than I am.
(00:39) I wouldn’t say much friendlier
(00:41) I don’t want to draw too fine a point, as long as we get the point across, right.
(00:48) But our guest today is really an interesting person. It’s Michael Lazerow, who is a serial entrepreneur as well as the Chief Strategy Officer for Salesforce.com. Michael welcome, how are you?
(01:05) I’m doing really well and thank you for having me and congrats on 95 episodes, that’s incredible. I don’t know what I’ve done 95 times in my life, but 95 of these, I mean that’s really commitment, so congrats. I can’t wait for a 100, we should have a huge after party after 100
(01:22) That’s actually what we want to talk about today.
(01:26) I’m ready. I like after parties and pre-parties. Thank you for inviting me to the tail-gate before today.
(01:34) Michael, tell us about your job, your role at Salesforce as Chief Strategy Officer. What does that mean and what do you do?
(01:45) So Salesforce is an incredible company, I mean you know it very well and it’s growing incredibly fast and we feel like it’s our mission to create a vision for the future and really what I’ve enjoyed the most you know in my career, spending time with customers and spending time with customers figuring out their businesses, whether it was the early internet business, whether it was in social networking and media.
(02:10) And now as we have this vision for every company being a company success platform, I’m spending a lot of my time figuring out what do you need to be successful with your customers. How much of the innovation that’s been done in our industry has been in the back office and really behind the scenes and that really was the last wave of you know software where you get your HR systems and your finance systems and your ERP systems up and running.
(02:38) And really what we’re innovating around is thecustomer and I’m spending my time with customers and really trying to take what they need back to our teams and take our teams to the customers and that’s what I do on a day-to-day basis and they thought that the Chief Strategy Officer was a great title for it.
(02:59) So you know, to be in your shoes so you have got Forbes magazine for the last I don’t know three, four, five years, naming Salesforce as the most innovative company in the world. Your boss has been named the top CEO in the country and now you know, they’re tapping on your shoulders saying, Michael we want you to be the chief Strategy Officer for this amazing company. Do you just wake up some mornings in a cold sweat? I mean tell us about the challenge of that responsibility.
(03:34) A great part of Salesforce is run by entrepreneurs. So what we I think forget many times is that it wasn’t long ago that you know Mark was an entrepreneur with an idea, an idea for Salesforce in cloud computing, an idea for philanthropy. You know all about the Salesforce foundation. You come to Dreamforce and seen how important that was.
(03:54) And fast forward 15 years later and yes it’s a larger company and we you know love the growth and were going to keep that going, but really it’s still an entrepreneurial spirit and it’s that spirit of creating a vision for the future. Ours around the customers success platform and how do we get there faster.
(04:14) And that’s what I’m psyched about. You know I’m psyched to wake up, talk to really big companies, companies I’ve known forever and think about how do you connect with them in a whole new way through mobile apps, through cloud computing, through social, through big data, using kind of very intelligent algorithms to sell better, service better, market better.
(04:36) And so it still feels like a startup for me. it still feels like we have a lot of stuff to do. We have to move fast, we have to get to the future before our customers, and you know it’s been a true honor working with Mark, you know Mark. He is an incredible visionary but also just an incredible person on the philanthropic side in the way he manages the company and the way he focus’s the company and brings in the best of the best. So you know I’m excited about the future and excited about where we are today.
(05:07) But really in a sense of what your doing is you are rethinking what marketing action means, based on data, based on analytics, based on expectations. Based on the evolution of expectation on the part of both brands and more importantly the expectations of their customers.
(05:24) Yeah, absolutely. I come out of the marketing industry and my last role at Salesforce is very much kind of marketing cloud focused and no doubt we you know, had the number one marketing cloud that was trying to help our customers connect with their customers.
(05:40) And what that means is yes we have a best in class email system and best in class social and best in class social ads and all of this technology. But we realized that it’s not just about the tools, it’s about how do we connect marketing to sales which is a big issue for a lot of our customers – how do we close that gap so sales people can be empowered and the leads are there and the pipeline is there. And that they’re productive and making the right calls each day.
(06:08) how do we connect it to service. So I started in the social world with Buddy Media and now we are seeing one of the big use cases for our social studio being a customer service with the social cloud. You know people on Twitter saying, we love you, we hate you, you lost our bags, and I can’t access my account.
(06:28) And you look at a company like Activision and they used to have half the people call them up on the phone, and now 80% of all customer inquiries are handled by their social community.
(06:39) And what does that mean for their advocacy or the cost savings in the you know service departments. So it’s really this vision of marketing that’s much broader than, We will help you connect the dots between cookies and do your digital marketing. It’s, we’ll connect you to your sales team, your service teams and help you build apps better and understand what’s going on with analytics and you know it’s a much broader customer or consumer on the B2C side proposition.
(07:15) Michael, I collaborate with other CMO’s and there’s a trend on digital marketers trying to develop buyer (unclear 07:25) and buyer process maps to segmentation analysis. Whereby they are using data as you said to bring marketing and sales closer to each other. You mentioned big data, what are your thoughts on the use of data and analytics in terms of perhaps anew way of marketing more effectively to grow a business.
(07:47) Really how we manifest that is and I agree with you of the proposition of being big data driving a lot of the marketing. For us it really comes down to customer journeys, and what customer journeys are about is using data to do this one-to-one marketing.
(08:06) Using customer data to push people forward in a journey they have with a company. You know a customer decides when to start that journey. A customer decides when to end that journey, but there’s a lot you can do to map out the journey’s and understand where is this person in the journey.
(08:25) So it typically as you know, on a strategy role with customers, I’m looking at four specific questions with a customer and it all has to do with data. So it’s number one, you know your customers, right where is that customers data, do you know who I a customer versus not a customer?
(08:41) Number two, do you have the ability to push them forward in their journey. So you know who they are, do you know where they are in their journey. Right, do you have the ability to say, this is where I want them to go. They bought one product from us; we want them to buy another. They bought a product and sure we want to win them back.
(09:02) You know some of our customers have thousands of journey’s and if you don’t know where that customer is in their journey, then you’re dead and then it comes down to, what is the content, what is the strategies that you have to push them forward. So are you able to program content in the next best offer based on knowing where they are in a journey.
(09:22) And the fourth is can you measure it all and a lot of that is optimized on the fly. Some of it’s real time, some of it’s not real time but we are getting into a world that every message is customized and personalized. If you come into the website, if you come into a kiosk in retail, you can get money out of an ATM machinethose messages are being customized.
(09:47) Obviously what’s happened with this and this and all the other phones that I have here – I don’t know why I have this but I have man search for meaning on my desk and just realized. I don’t know what that says, but it is a great book, one of my favorite books and Adam Braun just gave it to me.
(10:03) But because of the phone there’s so much data. Location data, usage data, social data and we have these things with us 24 hours a day, right. We all sleep next to at least one of our phones. And so you know we’re in a world that if you are not using intelligent data – or intelligently using data to push customers along, you’re just going to get crushed.
(10:28) Every industry is going where Uber is, which is you push a button and the company comes to you, verse you go out and go to the retail outlet nine to five that close at lunch when you have your free time right.
(10:44) Michael, you wrote an article for Adage where you asked the question, How is the brand helping customers.so tell us what you’re describing, tell us about the benefit to the customer in this case rather than the benefit to the brand.
(11:05) Yes so I mean I’ve just, you know I just permanently believe we’re in a world where it’s not about the company anymore it’s about the customer. And so it used to be that you’d organized your company in a way that you’d want to organize your company and we’re seeing companies just organized around the customer.
(11:22) What that means in you know, truly what marketing is, is are you providing a benefit to the customer, are you helping them and helping them could be transporting them from A to B, it could be entertaining them. it could be providing them software to make their marketing teams more effective – whatever it is.
(11:42) And then what is that help you’re providing. Are you providing it when they need it, so when you think of Uber right, like yeah, you press a button on an app to get a car, but the ‘when’ is really important, that when of like yes, we can transport you but I kind of need it right now, right.
(12:04) And then the third piece of that help, which didn’t really exist you know before the mobile phone and the last way of computing is really the ‘how.’ So you’re providing a benefit, you’re doing it when the customer needs it, but are you doing it how the customer wants it, right.
(12:22) They have to get off a couch and drive into your store just to get something done, or are you doing it in an effective way possible. And the companies we see growing are the fastest most innovative companies that have really played in the house space. So Uber wasn’t the first to invent like the limo service but the idea that they’re delivering it through a push of a button right, like here’s me getting a car right. Not really thumbs up and I know where to go.
(12:54) But it’s pretty like revolutionary and you know we’re in a world like you get crushed if you’d be playing the best service at the best price but just not delivering it in the way that the customers want and they’re going to go somewhere else.
(13:10) But it’s all about the data though right, that’s the point here.
(13:13) I mean I don’t think it’s all about the data. I think the data is important. I think it’s about humanity in many ways, so this is art and science. So it’s not just about the ones and zeroes, but that is what’s going to power the right message.
(13:29) Right, that’s what’s going to take the sole of your business and get it out there. So when you look at companies that are thriving today, you know they really have a sole they have a purpose, they have a reason for being, they’re programming content. They’re brands stand for something; it’s relevant for the customer.
(13:48) And so all of that is being carried forward, so creativity is just as important as it ever was. It’s just the element of data helps you kind of target better. So think of it like the cell phone industry right, or like Live Nation a big customer of ours who we love and have hundreds and millions of customer data points. They’ve all the transaction history, they’ve all the music preferences. And way back when you would get one mailing through the mail that say’s Lady Ga Ga or whoever was in town.
(14:21) Now you’re getting real time alerts, emails of just your bands in it, you walk into the venue and up pops information that figure responsibility for that. It’s all personalized for your specific taste, so it’s still all about the music and the messaging, but it’s just personal in the way that it’s never been personal.
(14:40) So Michael, in terms of modern marketing are we talking about a bunch of new P’s. In the last minute or so you talked about precision marketing, you talked about personalization, you talked about being proactive. You know you talked about purpose, are we just simply good marketers who are leveraging technology to build a more intimate relationship with customers.
(15:04) I think the you know, relevancy drives business results. So there’s companies that you buy from that you just buy from right. There are companies that you buy from that are really relevant to you, and typically you build relevancy using the data right, like this company understands me.you know this Italian restaurant, they just know what I’m going to order and I know the owners and they’re like really relevant because they kind of know who I am.
(15:31) So we’re seeing that the best marketers are doing that. You know I look at – I was just with the Kimpton hotels team and you know, they’ve had a huge transformation. They launched there karma program, new website, new branding and the whole idea is that every message is personalized for that person. are they a member of the loyalty program, how loyal are they, is this someone whose been with you for 10 years, for one year.
(15:59) And what I get so much satisfaction is that they were just rated the top customer satisfaction and kind of emotional attachment among all the hotel groups. You know that’s now a company that has 93% customer satisfaction scores in the hotel industry, which is probably below – little below kind of cable TV and some of the utilities.
(16:24) But you know, you’re very vocal about the hotels you stay in if they mess up. And I just look at that example like a service company taking the service to the next level using data, that when you check into your room in some of the trial hotels with your phone, not having to talk to anyone. You know you go to the airport now and you don’t have to wait inline. You just kind of check in on your phone, you get your boarding pass. If you have to talk to someone you’re like why am I talking to someone, how dare they make me talk to someone, right.
(16:56) Now it’s still very personal, like we check into Delta but they’ve done it in a way that you know is just seamless which is awesome.
(17:07) Michael, what you’re describing is I think for many companies is almost science fiction you know, the companies in silicon Valley and some of the largest companies they’re on the leading edge of this. But what advice do you have for a company that is hearing about this and it sounds just wonderful but they’re not sure how to get there. So how do you get there if this is a new world.
(17:42) I think there’s a - what we are talking about is table stakes for the entertainment business and for the hospitality and service business. I think you know it gets to be trickier for industrial companies and you know, some B2C companies that have done business a certain way, they manufacture products, they have very large sales teams that aren’t you know trained in the new way they have to work.
(18:05) So I find that’s where I’m spending a lot of my time, however just because it’s hard it’s not a reason not to do it. I look at the work that Stanley Black & Decker is doing on their own. I mean obviously they use you know some of our products – a lot of our products. But they’ve build this whole generation of kind of connective tools that connect them with their customers in this entirely new way.
(18:32)So when the tool breaks, their service technicians can go to them verse the other way and kind of loss productivity based on have tools not working is not great. So they have basically built on top of the salesforce one platform and embedded chips in their wrenches, which you know you may laugh at. But you know that was a very important decision for them and you know, they are now telling their operators when the tools need to be calibrated right.
(19:02) So when your drill sends a message to you that, I need a new battery verse like sending out on a job and you’re losing two hours of productivity, you know you leave the site, and the tool which is connected to the internet tells you that it’s been left behind, right, don’t leave me! You left me over here, hello I’m not in the tool box. Right, like that saves you a trip back, it saves you money.
(19:30)And the idea - so is that sales, is it service, is it marketing? Who knows but all of the Stanley Black and Decker brands can now use that information at the brand level to understand their customers. To understand where they are, how they use the tolls and stay coordinated with them in this kind of win-win-win way.
(19:54) You know most of there – a lot of their customers they have to deliver for their customers. So they’re using these tools to do something for customers of theirs. And so you know, Stanly Black and Decker has to innovate on behalf of their customers otherwise they’re not going to keep up with their competition. I look at Unilever – I look at all of these companies that are making great strides.
(20:17) Youknow the single biggest issue that I’m seeing by far is just internal coordination. So you know, this all sounds great right, but if you’ve 7,000 marketers at a company like Unilever how do you reorganizes while settling in today’s numbers right. Like Wall Street doesn’t take a break as you innovate. So I think that of like , what’s now, what do I have to do not to kind of grow. What is next? So if I don’t do this in the next 12 months we’re going to get crushed, right. You have to start investing behind that.
(20:55) And then having teams like you know (unclear of company name 20:56) has ventures under her group really investing in the new. So stuff that maybe not coming in the next six to 12/18 month, but you’d better pay attention to and understand because when it hits it may hit hard. I think that’s where we were with connected products at last Dreamforce at this Dreamforce, you know people woke up and said ‘whoa, like this internet of things is actually the internet of customers. We have our customers connected.
(21:29) And that’s driving - Look what’s happening in Davos, look at what’s happening at any event. Every company is a tech company these days.
(21:37) Gartner’s advice to IT is that they need to think of by mobile IT where you have training and discipline with both marathoners and sprinters. Folks that are trying to build operational excellence with long term projects and folks that are adaptive and driving digital business transformation. Does marketing ned to have – you know you just mentioned a client with 7,000 marketers, do they need to have (by mobile?) marketing where there are folks thinking about Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Google Glass and GE sensors on aeroplane engines. How do you take all of that data and create insight and rapid decisions and actions throughout the organization to benefit the customer.
(22:21) Well I think these – do they yes, but I also think that we’re seeing the emergence of a CMO really as the customer journey officer. And at the end of the day it is really the CEO/ CMO partnership that is going to drive the business because the product you’re selling is no longer separated from how you market. So those technical innovations that are in your products – how you connect to your customers through your products that’s what goes in your TV ad, that’s what goes into your digital advertising, that’s what goes into your social advertising.
(22:58) The case in point is the GE commercials of the connected hospitals with the matrix or you look at the other car companies right. I mean how many of them advertise, Hey we’ll get you from A to B you know the best way. It’s always about, we’ve safety breakthroughs, you can bring your music into the car, you kick the bumper and the thing opens right.
(23:22) So basically you know the reason why Uber I think has just fascinated everyone and Lyft and Airbnb, is the product innovation and the marketing is one and the same. Right, like what do you do, at Uber you just look at the product and tell your friends about it.
(23:42) I think that’s what you know, in many ways that’s what all of those want right? Like I can run my business from my phone at Salesforce literally like, I’m on a computer right now because you guys says it was on Google hangouts and I thought I would log in. But I’m never on a computer right, I do everything with this or this. I have two like many of us because I spent most of my day like this, right.
(24:10) I’m on the phone but I’m also looking at customer information, or whatever I need for the phone call. So finally I’m like, I can be more productive with these two than with you know a computer and a phone. And what’s happening is things are coming so fast, faster than they’ve ever come definitely in my life. You know I used to be the young person in this industry but I’m like one of the oldest in the Internet business. And it used to be every three, four, five years you see something shift. Now you are getting it every month right, every two months like there’s a seismic shift.
(24:51) Well what you are really talking about their is the business model innovation, that’s where those companies like Uber, Airbnb, Lyft are rethinking their entire relationship and rolled to the market and the role that they play with their customers and so then the marketing of it becomes it’s integrated into it but subsidiary to the underlying disruption that they’re causing because of the business model change.
(25:28) A lot of it is you know we would create products for the software industry or the tool industry or car company and not realise the person using it right. And I think with this mobile first world, like if you just start with the premise behind every app we build there is a person who has to the get out how to get some sort of like personal and business value out of this, some help. Then it fundamentally changes how you build products. You can no longer just sell stuff and go away. All of a sudden you know, the new Sony camera which is here somewhere.
(26:07) I have a football game tonight with my son so I may be going to be taking some pictures and I have this new camera and new lens, it’s connected to the Internet right. Now when it breaks, why isn’t there a button on this thing that I just look for it that says, help right – a help button.
(26:25) You know the Amazon button where on a Kindle you just press it and it’s kind of a Mayday button, that would be on every product right. Every product like if it’s broken I want to press a button and get help. And so how do you do that within an organization, right that is one of the big missions of our service cloud is that this Mayday button like if you have a connected product and it’s not working, then the company better be standing behind that product to help me when it’s not working verse, there’s a disconnected world of like, aw it’s not working. I need to go to the Sony store on the 57th Street. I have to wait in line at lunch because that’s the only time I can go. I’m hoping to get back to my office in an hour before people think I’m slacking off right.
(27:08) So you guys just did a marketing research report based on input from what I believe 5000 marketers, was there anything in that report that surprised you, any lessons learned.
(27:25) It surprises me every year. We have done this like many times and so what surprised - first, let me just tell you what happened.
(27:33) I basically asked 5000 marketers what they are more focused on in increasing spend, and the top three were social related which you know we thought was interesting, and number four was mobile and then you know we talk about data and a bunch of other stuff and on the social side of what’s happened is you know, social engagement and social marketing so one is kind of like you know, we’re engaging through social channels, the other is like outbound marketing through social channels.
(28:02) Really the social engagement piece has growing incredibly fast because there’s such a huge value in getting the kind of phone calls and the emails out of your customer service center and into kind of the more cost-effective faster channels.
(28:20) And so that’s driving it and overall it’s kind of we’ve talked about social for so long but it’s now business. It’s social selling. I mean Vala you’ve pioneered this in many ways through your kind of own marketing and the stuff that you’ve done at Extreme network. Like how do you use social to actually give give or jab, jab, jab as (Chuck? 28:41) would say and you know the right hook that your landing business out of it.
(28:48) And in mobile right which I look at social mobile as the same thing right. We open up our phone and we look at email, Facebook, Twitter you know (Picyour? 28:58) maybe if you’re in Asia may be (lion senawaybo? 29:00) But is basically that these are social devices - their friends in their pocket.
(29:07) So social, mobile, video, that is the new TV experience. That’s really where the shift of the dollars are going, from TV right into mobile apps, mobile advertising, you know social properties. Listen this will be the first Super Bowl that I don’t think we will make a huge deal of social because it’s how we live right.
(29:30) So Michael we were talking just a moment ago about start-up business models and you have started four start-ups yourself and you invested in at least 25 others, so obviously you like start-ups
(29:51) I love them.
(29:54) So what are some of the predictors success for a start-up based on your observations.
(30:02) I mean so for me I think you have to get the space right. So from an investment perspective I really like big, hairy wide open spaces, and so a lot of this stuff that I’m focused on and doing are just like huge markets undergoing change.
(30:20)So for the last three years I’ve been doing a lot of media stuff with who you are starting with. You know even before that, Facebook and Tumblr and now early investor in BuzzFeed and Mashable and media companies.
(30:20) Mobile, there’s obviously huge things going on both on the consumer side and the enterprise side. So just take a big space and you kind of don’t have to be number one, two, three, or even four – it’s great if you are. Like if you are number one in cloud computing as Mark was then the rest is history right.
(30:50) But there’s many other companies. I stood on the shoulders of Mark Benioff, taking his model of cloud computing, bringing it to another industry and did okay because there was a huge space right. We created a business, and you know the timing was good and we’re still on our mission.
(31:09) Number two is just people. You know start-ups are lonely and there has been a lot of stuff written about kind of CEO depression and you know, this pressure we put on ourselves to succeed. There’s a great interview with Serena Williams on the ESPN on Saturday that I happened to be watching with me and my kids and she was asking a great question by the reporter. It was, do you do what you do, like on an island you know trying to succeed because you want to win or because you don’t like to lose, and she said that she has driven more by not wanting to lose, so it’s like the pressure to not lose is so much bigger than the happiness from that she gets from actually winning right.
(31:54) So I think if you have to pick founders, like I was fortunate enough to invest in Josh James at Domo, who is a great founder and is on a mission he’s levelheaded, he’s aggressive. I look at Jonah Parretti at BuzzFeed – all great entrepreneurs happen to have this kind of drive - internal drive and the ability to execute that’s awesome.
(32:17) The third thing you want to do is just raise a lot of money and the only way you can go out of business is like run out of money. So I tell all entrepreneurs like you have three jobs as the entrepreneur, like don’t run out of money, don’t run out of money, and don’t run out of money.
(32:31) Show me a company with 20 million in the bank and you’ll may be figure something out right. Show me one that has zero and there’s going to be a lot of pain for the next few years kind of unwinding everything.
(32:42) So I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve done now like 50+ deals. Time will tell if I’m an investor as well, I love entrepreneurs. I’m addicted to start-ups. You know, I had my first at college and just got fortunate with timing and the Internet right. Took off. I was a journalism major and you can kind of see back in the 90s I know it seems like forever, you could see that like this whole idea of printing and stuff on paper and driving it in trucks of gasoline to people’s houses, like that wasn’t going to last.
(33:22) So I’m probably more addictive than I should be and will see what happens on the investing side.
(33:26) You had something in the Wall Street Journal and I’m going to read this exactly. You said, you spoke about venture backed lingo slingers that contaminate the entrepreneurial well.
(33:44) I don’t even remember reading that. I’m surprised that there isn’t a ‘too be sure’ in front of it. I wouldn’t believe anything in the journal that’s all I’m going to say.
(33:55)At the end of the day like you know, tech is a new Hollywood. You know everyone wants to get into tech, you know everyone wants to do start-ups. You know, you go to a CES and you see how big it is. You go to South by Southwest and then the entertainers want to come. You go to everywhere and everyone has an app idea, like everyone wants to be a start-up.
(34:19) But it’s you know, it’s not the easiest lifestyle. You know I always work with my wife. People ask how do you work with her, and four companies. And for us it is just been a shared life, and if you can’t work with people who you love who do you work with, or like people that you hate right.
(34:38) And so you know I think it’s dangerous whether it is through television or through like the media and with the amount of money being made at some of these outliers, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and all this, that you know it’s dangerous for people getting into it for the wrong reasons.
(34:58) Are there are certain areas that peak your interest right now that you cannot you know share with us.
(35:06) Yeah, I’ll share everything. I mean so if you look at what’s going on, there is a few trends that are like so obvious right, and we’re just beginning. I think social is still there, how we use a lot of this data that is being created, 90% of all data in the world has been created in the last two years. Like how do we use that to live better lives, to trade better if you are on Wall Street, to identify health issues or municipal issues. Mobile, we are just like kind of scratching the surface there.
(35:43) I think nationwide over the next 10 years you’re going to see the legalization of pot everywhere, which I think is an interesting investment area. You know there’s a whole new farming industry that’s like coming up, and there is going to be a lot of companies creating technologies for that - writing technologies and communication technologies.
(36:05) And you know I think if you look at technology globally it’s still early. So I look at the work like Tiger-global has done - a big investor who I have known since they have started and you know, they find great companies all over the world and back them.
(36:19) And so what we take for granted as a market here, there are many countries that just aren’t you know aren’t where we are. At the same time we don’t have the infrastructure in what a lot of other countries have.
(36:34) You know I speak to a lot of young entrepreneurs who say all the time, they think all the ideas are taken. I remember sitting down with my best friend and my grandfather who died when he was 96 he used to say like when I was growing up he would say, all the ideas are taken right.
(36:52) He had a (building in housing?) And movie theatres and was a great entrepreneur. But there’s so many ideas and we’re living in just an incredible country that rewards both success and failure. It’s easier to get jobs saying, I did my old thing for three years and it was just disaster, like totally ran it into the ground and made every bad decision. Like you are then differentiated verse, I sat here and just like taking the pay check and this is what I’ve done. That’s a great country that does that. I like countries like that.
(37:31) What about the notion of start-ups becoming an extension of corporate innovation efforts. I know that Salesforce has acquired a lot of companies including your own, so what about this notion of start-ups serving as an extension of internal innovation.
(37:52) You know I think start-ups play a really important role in kind of the economic ecosystem because of the risk that we take. And it’s very hard – you know Geoffrey Moore has written about this and a lot of great business thinkers writing about how do you go from one to two products, three products to four products. How do you make the decision to cannibalize one product and throw things away in order to get to a future even although that will be painfully internally and customers will be upset?
(38:24) And I think that the ecosystem of start-ups – they take risks some of them will work and most of them don’t. Some of them are bought, but in most cases they are not partnerships that lead to progress and you know every great company started somewhere whether it was Microsoft or Oracle, whether it was Forbes, Unilever. They weren’t Unilever forever; I was just with Martin Sorrell of WPP, who has hundreds of thousands of employees across thousands of agencies right.
(38:56) He had to make a decision, that I’m going to start WPP right, and what looks like incredible success today, I think what people don’t realise is that it takes 50, 60, 10, five years – whatever the timeframe just busting an ass every day. Now, when you bring that into a company through an acquisition there’s two ways to do it. You either leave them separate and just let them go, or you integrate. Those are the two models and I think of them in reality they are somewhere in between, and the reason why I’m so happy at salesforce is that I’m allowed to innovate around stuff that’s interesting to me - not necessarily what I was doing at Buddy media even although social studio and Buddy Media is core to everything that we do.
(39:47) But there’s this idea that you’re using the pioneers, the innovators – people who are more like Mark right, who have gone out on a limb and started something right, I would have loved to have started salesforce. It would be a brilliant idea, I started something else and you look at who is running the business and Alex Dayon, who came in from an acquisition and Parker Harris on the product team and all of these great leaders are entrepreneurs, and we don’t think of it as part of a big company, right. Yes, we have a lot of salespeople and service professionals, and people working on platform, and product and you know, all across the company. But we think of it as a company that should be able to innovate and that’s what getting new blood and getting entrepreneurial spirit into the company does.
(40:36) You know I look at Cisco the technology company and other food companies that have done with how they innovate externally in kind of investing and setting kind of goals, and financial outcomes and then bringing them back in-house so they can go and innovate again.
(40:56) You know every big company we’re talking to has some sort of corporate venture group, whether it is a tech company or not and I just think that spirit of like, you’re going to have people who are pioneers and you are going to have people that are operators. Neither one is better than the other, they’re different, and in a true money ball scenario, you have to put the right people in the right positions. So does Mark want me to actually like operating a business – probably not right. Like Buddy Media had hundreds of employees, we want thousands of employees when we sold. But he seems to want me to be in front of customer’s talking about how we can help them and connect in a whole new way. And I think if you are going to buy companies you have to field people in the right positions.
(41:50) And I see it too often, my colleagues from a start-up world - very successful entrepreneurs, who are shoved into a pigeonhole position and they are not working on stuff that’s important to them.
(42:03) Michael we only have a few minutes left. Give me some advice. Give me another marketeers advice in terms of how we can improve a company or organisation that need to build meaningful relationships with customers.
(42:19) First and the most important advice and I see it every day - I just saw it today in a meeting, is as marketers we want to do everything, we want to think big and I think what I’ve learned from Salesforce (?) Buddy Media or other companies is that focus is so important. So figuring out as a marketer, what are the top three things that I have to do this year in order to propel this organisation forward? And it could be lead gen, pipe gen. It could be rebranding, it could be kind of connecting in this entirely new way that you may not know. It could be working with the product team to get your current products mobilized
(43:03) But as a marketer, what do you need to do – what are the top three things that you need to do to connect with your customers, even if it doesn’t live in your group and it could be kind of changing how you operate internally. You know, those of us who have been CMO’s like we get fired every two or three years anyway, right. Sales go down and it’s like, get rid of the CMO. It’s like NFL coaches these days.
(43:25) So you might as well while you are they’re focused on stuff that matters and say listen, I’m not going to do much this year, but what I am going to do is I’m going to hit out of the park and I’m going to have resources behind. Or even how you look at Salesforce or even Extreme Networks markets which are very successful company right, it’s all about focus.
(43:44) We have events and we’ve spent a lot of the time with customers and field marketing events. We do pipe gen and we have connected kind of sales to marketing in a very meaningful way that when someone raises their hand and says, Hello, I want information - like we treat that like gold, and you don’t see us doing a lot of one-off riff-rafty type stuff, right, you’re not going to see us doing.
(44:10) And I just look at you know I want to do like big sexy award-winning stuff right. I would love to see like massive massive like stuff where ever I am. We did that at Buddy Media, airport ads like it was so fun using venture money to do that.
(44:28) But at the end of the day what are you going to do that is important this year and for us at Salesforce is nothing more important than mobile phone, so making sure that our products are connected that everything that you access through salesforce is enabled and possible through the mobile phone.
(44:49) And then the other thing that we are spending a lot of time on is customer journeys. So we no longer have just one product at salesforce, no longer is it just the sales cloud, we have you know the number one cloud service, the number one marketing cloud, we have community product we have data product. We have the number-one enterprise platform, 4 million apps, 1.8 million developers.
(45:10) So understanding like where our customers are, what are their business problems, and where do we need to go with them in a joint way to get to their future faster - not only do we sell with what we help them get to their future faster and that’s really exciting work, and I’m spending a lot of time just figuring out what are those journeys.
(45:33) So you know we are out of time but before we go, you recorded a video that described experiences that you had and related to almost death. And maybe share with us your view, how did that inform your view and your relationship to failing and taking risk and not failing and so forth.
(46:02) Yeah, I mean really quickly, I almost died a bunch of times before with a general heart defect and it basically kicked up again when you know I was in college and so I had some heart surgery, like I have a zipper right here.
(46:21) And you know they put in and they tried to fix a valve, close a bunch of holes and that didn’t work and I had like zero blood pressure like three days later and my valve burst. They put in an artificial heart valve and the Sunday that we signed the deal, I was in the office alone and you know when you’re alone like it’s a very high energy office - I don’t know if it told the story before - a very high energy office. But when you are kind of like alone and like there’s nowhere to turn but like you go internal and I just felt very grateful really going back to the idea of being alive and you know one of my very close friends had just died of cancer (unclear 47:00) for a certain cycle of survival.
(47:05) And you know there was a kid in Austin Texas, who did a video about seeing his death and it only came out after he died (Ben Bredlow?) I’ve since become good friends with his parents. And I put together that video and you know Kas I did it really more for me and the company of Kas. Kas said that you have got to put it out there and put it on YouTube and it just kind of went viral.
(47:27) You know even today like no matter what issues I’m going through every day, I literally still say I’m alive right - I’m like playing on extra time. So like what’s the worst thing that is going to happen right, like okay we’ve run out of money – whatever, we are alive. You know it’s just a mentality like where you see your rabbi over your bed in a tuxedo because he is going to Abundance for that night like you are in a hospital bed and you think your dead and that’s what happens. Like that concept of rabbi Joe Weinberger over my bed like has just stuck with me.
(48:05) So I try to live most days as if it’s my last but that’s hard right, I’m just as many ways I have a lot of fears myself – I’m scared of sharks. Right I’m going to be eaten by a shark every time when I go in the ocean. That’s why I like Clearwater so you can see is coming. But that’s where that story came from.
(48:35) So Vala we have to ask Michael to come back another time.
(48:39) He was awesome. It was the fastest 50 minutes on this show. Thank you so much Michael.
(48:46) No thank you I’m honored.
(48:48) And next time we’ll talk about cameras as well.
(48:51) I would love a show on cameras. I love cameras.
(48:53) So I would like to thank everybody for watching episode number 95 of CXOTalk. We’ve been talking to Michael Lazerow who is the Chief Strategy Officer in salesforce and like in 50 companies. Next week we are going to be joined by Mike Sutcliff, who is the group CEO for Accenture Digital, and so we will be talking about digital transformation and a different take on digital transformation. And Vala as always I hate to say goodbye to you.
(49:38) Yes, we’ll meet again next Friday.
(49:41) We’ll do that and Michael Lazerow, thank you so much for taking the time today.
(49:48) And everybody thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week and I hope you have a great weekend, bye bye.
Companies mention in the show:
Buddy media: www.buddymedia.com
Live Nation: www.livenation.com
Kimpton Hotels: www.kimptonhotels.com
Delta Airlines: www.delta.com
Stanley Black and Decker: www.stanleyblackanddecker.com
Published Date: Jan 23, 2015
Author: Michael Krigsman
Episode ID: 95