How do we think about leadership in Customer Education? In previous episodes of the CELab Podcast, we have talked about next generation of leaders and what they need to do up to set the stage for the next generation of leaders?
In this episode, Alessandra Marinetti and Adam Avramescu discuss the book “Tribal Leadership” by Dave Logan, John King, et. al. Customer Education often finds it’s way into emerging and growing (start-up) cultures. This book gets to the core of organizational growth and how to help work cultures progress through the stages of innovation and productivity.
Join us as we work – out loud – to discuss different views on how we think about can better approach leadership, managing teams, and involving others in conversations about our work in Customer Education.
Customer Education is not a “walk in the park”. But in this episode, Adam and I take a stroll (literally) through the Hirim M. Chittenden Ballard Locks in Seattle, Washington and talk about our learning journeys.
This episode was recorded before Adam began his brand new role as VP of Customer Education and Engagement at Personio, and when Dave was brand new starting as the Director of Customer Education at ServiceRocket.
This is a more conversational discussion as compared to our typical episodes – but we are inviting you in to join us as we let our thoughts wander as we wonder through the Ballard Locks.
For Leaders and Practitioners, there are few books out there on the market which appeal specifically to the Customer Education Market which is why we always put the spotlight on any new seminal work on the subject.
Join us for a fun and insightful discussion that follows the “origin story” of the book, and dives deep into the challenges that Barry and Daniel have seen in our emerging industry and how this playbook, with it’s 12- step approach, can help you build an impactful, scalable Customer Education program.
If you want to become a Customer Education leader, this is a prime time: demand is outpacing supply for leaders who have “seen the movie” and been through several cycles building and leading teams. This means there are more opportunities for current CEd specialists to move into leadership roles.
But this isn’t easy today, as new leaders are expected to come up to speed quickly. It wasn’t easy for us either, when we were getting started. We grew into leadership positions at a time where there was very little information out there on how to run a Customer Education function in a SaaS business, especially one outside of more traditional Education Services.
Now there’s much more information out there: more books, podcasts, communities, and leaders working out loud and sharing their experience. But what these resources still won’t tell you is what you’re actually walking into as a CEd leader, or how to prepare to get into that position.
We’ve put together a few tips based on our discussion in the podcast, as well as our experience as Customer Education leaders.
While Customer Education has been around for many years, we at CELab attribute it’s re-emergence to the Customer Success movement. And with that, we invite special guest Nick Mehta – CEO of Gainsight – to the stage!
In this episode we take a macro perspective on Customer Success today – where it’s at and where it’s headed – and question the role that Customer Education plays. Companies today grow much faster, and this conversation takes a direct look at how Customer Education is at the core of Customer Success. In short, if you’re not putting Customer Education and Enablement programs in place early – then your “Crossing the Chasm” experience will be much more challenging.
Join us as we talk about:
The growth curve of Hypergrowth B2B SaaS
How Community, Documentation, Education, and Enablement factor in to support that growth
What are the 4 key areas for Education in SaaS to address going forward
And who knows, we may even talk about TikTok!
Thanks to Nick and the Gainsight team. This is a foundational episode you surely don’t want to miss!
For this episode, we welcome Melissa VanPelt who leads Seismic’s Global Education and Advocacy program at Seismic. We’ve hoped to have Melissa on the show for some time, and this is an episode you’ll truly enjoy.
And because of the depth and complexity of this episode, here’s a special introduction read by Adam:
Adam Avramescu 00:00
Hey everyone, Adam here, just doing a quick introduction before this episode, and we don’t usually do this, but I wanted to focus in on a specific part of the conversation. That’s coming a little bit later. Now, as you’ll hear, we had the opportunity to sit down with Melissa Van Pelt, who is an amazing customer education and enablement leader over at seismic. And we had a great conversation with her.
But towards the end, she makes a certain comment about faking it until you make it. And we talk about it in the context of the episode. But I think this is a really important point, for anyone listening, who’s thinking about growing their career in customer education, or perhaps in some cases rising through the ranks of a company.
In the conversation, she’s talking about the idea that she didn’t necessarily come from a customer education background, and how she had to learn customer success, and then learn customer education, learn community.
I think, in the middle of that, and the way that she was able to take on this increasing scope is not because she was a specialist in learning or customer marketing, or product marketing or any of this, but because, as her company, kept building strategic programs, they trusted her as a leader who could commit to learning everything she needed to learn about that field to make it work.
So the phrase she uses is, “fake it till you make it.” And I think that’s a phrase that cuts both ways. Because often, when we think about something like that, we think, oh, you know, just just pretend you know what you’re doing. And, you know, then eventually, you’ll, you’ll know what you’re doing. And I don’t think that’s actually how it works.
In a lot of cases, the way that she uses the phrase, fake it till you make it is really throw yourself in, start learning, commit, apply those skills, and then figure out how to fill in gaps until you’re doing the thing, you know, quote, unquote, the right way. So, because Melissa works really hard to understand her customers need, how her business works. That I think is how she’s gotten the opportunities to continue to expand her scope. And frankly, it’s what I see a lot of other leaders do, who have continued to expand their scope within and even outside of customer education. It’s not about pretending you know, everything is not about puffing up or posturing.
And frankly, I think as our field grows, you’ll continue to see people who who choose to take that approach where they’ll kind of like pretend they know what they’re talking about, but they don’t actually know. That’s not the right kind of fake until you make it think the right kind of fake it till you make it is exactly what we talked about in this episode where you really roll up your sleeves.
You actively listen,
You learn and you take a fundamentally humble approach to learning about how to make this thing work at your business.
And that’s how you’ll continue to get great opportunities as time goes on.
It’s Valentine’s Day and our gift to the CELab Community was intended to be a “Mini”. Turned out, both Adam and Dave got on a roll and at about the 31 minute mark, Adam can be heard to say, “Let’s wrap up Marketing, okay? In a fairly effective amount of time, and then our next episode, can be on Product.”
Well, we made the entire talk about the intersection of Customer Education and Marketing! In particular we talked much about how Customer Education can help Marketing and Product Marketing teams to educate a market, how we create opportunities to develop educational programs about a B2B SaaS or other business’s industry and skills.
We get into Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Events, and all the messy stuff that always comes up. But when it comes down to it – your Customer Education team is your Trusted Advisor for educating your market. Let’s work together more … it’s fun, and it’s a powerful combination.
Are you wondering how to move from K-12 to Customer Education? Or academia to corporate learning? In this episode, we’re diving into how Customer Education professionals get into the business. Many professionals make a move into Customer Education from teaching, K12 or academia. Others move from Customer Success to Customer Education. Today’s guest has actually worked in each of those worlds! So tune in for a discussion with Monica Sindwani from AgentSync.
Monica made the move from teaching to Customer Success and Customer Education. In this episode, she shares tips for teachers and academics making the move into instructional design or corporate learning. We discuss the paradox of transferable skills and how intellectual humility plays a big part in reskilling. And we talk about how programs like Salesforce Trailhead and other credential programs can be a huge asset for anyone looking to move into the technology field.
Join us for Part 2 of our crossover with another great podcast: He Said, Dee Said with Dee Kapila from Miro and Ryan Roch from Cisco. We continue our Pop Culture thread on how Video Games, Music, and Video does or doesn’t apply to Customer Education. We range far and wide with this final episode of 2021!
Happy New Year from CELab and all of us in the Customer Education community!
And as always, check below for a full transcript of the show!