Stephanie Pellegrino  00:00

And the things that our generation has learned, we could really pass on to others so that they can avoid a lot of the mistakes that we made.

Adam Avramescu  00:18

Welcome to see lab, the customer education lab where we explore how to build customer education programs, experiment with new approaches and exterminate the myths and bad advice that stop growth dead in its tracks. I’m Rocky and Adam ever messed you from home

Dave Derington  00:36

and I’m daring Dave Derington.

Adam Avramescu  00:39

And we’re being bold today because we are joined by one of our boldest friends in customer education. Stephanie Pellegrino Stephanie. Hi, how’s it going?

Stephanie Pellegrino  00:48

This is like quite an intro. I don’t even know what my my S word would be. Right? Like smiling. Stephanie is all I could come up with dining stuff.

Adam Avramescu  00:57

Sadler, Stephanie, all of that. Okay, we’re super super into it. But before we introduce you properly, we have to do our national day of and I think stuff you actually brought this to us, which I love. Very rarely do we have our guests just proactively bring us the national data. But this isn’t so appropriate. Do you want to tell us what it is?

Stephanie Pellegrino  01:22

Yeah, I believe today is the national shoe in de which as I understand is like building awareness around shoes, and for people to have access to shoes, which just like, is also quite fitting as I sit and do this podcast in my closet surrounded by my shoes. So I’m very into this today, we’re gonna take a screenshot of your closet 100% can share that with with the podcast.

Adam Avramescu  01:51

Amazing. So I’m super excited about this. Because like, like some of my favorite episodes of the show, we get an opportunity to talk to one of our amazing peers, who is a customer education leader, and will have the opportunity to talk actually about customer education leadership today, which is super important, but maybe maybe to bring things up. Steph, do you want to tell us what you what you do at Gong, and maybe a little bit about what brought you into that world?

Stephanie Pellegrino  02:18

Yeah, um, so at Gong, I’m our director of customer education and training, really, essentially, for all those listening, right? It’s really making sure that every thing that we’re putting in front of customers around training and education is whether it’s delivery or playbooks or On Demand training is coming through my team, partner really closely with our customer success team and our services team and even, you know, our knowledge base team to make sure that we kind of have this really unified experience across what we’re putting in front of customers for those learning opportunities. I think the the interesting thing is how I got into training in the first place, I was actually a sales salesperson, I sold copiers door to door early on, and then moved on from that. Because why wouldn’t you to selling 401 K’s which was interesting, because I was selling 401 K’s during the recession, which I cannot say was like the easiest thing to do. But that’s when I figured out I loved training. Because the moment I loved the most after I closed a deal was training the customers on how to use the copier, or how to enroll in the 401k, which any good salesperson hates, like that’s the part that you’re supposed to not want to do. And that was eye opening to me as like, wait a minute, I love this. And so I went to workday, really early on in my career took an inside sales job knowing that I was going to find who ran training, and like nag my way to a job, which is like 100% what I did, like I took home the course material that they had at the time for their one core class and was like, I am going to learn this, I am going to get this job as their next trainer. And that is how I got into training.

Adam Avramescu  04:05

Oh my god, and then and then you’ve been in training ever since you’ve led customer education built customer education and several companies are our listeners would know the name. So you’ve, you’ve done this a few times.

Stephanie Pellegrino  04:16

I I feel very fortunate to have been at large organizations that started small, large organizations that are bigger ones, right, like my time at LinkedIn was incredibly powerful to be at a company that then got acquired by an even bigger company, different small startups, all the way to my incredibly rewarding position now, which is you know, leading education at at Gong, which like is a rocket ship. Right. So,

Dave Derington  04:45

yeah. Let me jump in here a little bit too, because I think, Stephanie, what, what I really like about your story is it’s evocative of the same kind of story that we have, like those of us that are finding ourselves in well Talking about what we’re going to talk about today. Yeah, it’s, I know that I can only talk from my my personal narrative, it’s once I started to gain sight. And I saw the world open up. And literally at the time, you know, that was the emergence of customer success. And now you start seeing this pocket of, oh my gosh, this thing is here it is unfolding after it. And you have that same kind of journey that we have where you start in one place and go, oh, there’s something here. And that is I want to follow the lead. And then you end up somewhere else, like I didn’t go, Okay, I see another angle of it, because I went from a mid to a low back early phase. And then I go, like you, I ended up at a unicorn hyper growth company outreach, and saw that high that top end of the journey, Adam, you have a similar story. And between us, what we’re talking about is like, what are these experience? How can we help? How can we help people avoid those mistakes? Yeah, I think we’re, you are keenly in position to do that. So thanks for for getting on the show today.

Stephanie Pellegrino  06:07

No, I’m really looking forward to it. Yeah, so

Adam Avramescu  06:09

I think I think that kind of frames up our topic today, which is, like when we think about the experience that we had getting into customer education, and how we learned what we learned, it’s probably fair to say that the specific time where a lot of us were getting into it was this sort of transformative time in customer education. It was at this weird little nexus between where there was kind of an older world of pre SAS education services. And but we weren’t at the point where we’re at right now, where customer education as a field has really taken off. Like, I think we’re all part of a similar generation where we came in during this, like, awkward middle ground. And we made a lot of mistakes along the way. And we learned a lot of really hard lessons. So that that really makes makes me think about, you know why we wanted to do this episode in the first place, which is like, hey, now we’re leading teams, now we’re starting to see the next generation of customer education leaders start to rise up in their careers and like, what, what can we do? Is there anything that we can do to help them avoid some of the mistakes or hard hard lessons that that we have?

Stephanie Pellegrino  07:23

It’s so interesting. And this is why I’m so excited to talk about this, because I think there’s so many angles to take this right. I think that given the exact background, we just talked about that all of us have. What’s really interesting is there were lessons learned along the way, some that we could control moving forward, some that we can’t, but I also think the industry is learning lessons. Meaning I think we are able to now confidently say that customer training and education is like on the minds of C level executives. And I don’t know that it always was. And I’m not saying it is everywhere. But it definitely wasn’t 10 years ago, right? It definitely wasn’t. But I now feel that I don’t have to make the training and education as the redheaded stepchild of the organization joke anymore, because we’re not I know, find that I can tie every single piece of work that an individual contributor is doing to larger business initiatives. And I don’t know. And it’s and it’s understood, it’s like, Yes, that makes sense. training and education. When I chat with our sea levels, there is an absolute understanding that like it can be part of all it can be a part of a solution that all of us are working on. It wasn’t like that before.

Adam Avramescu  08:42

No, which doesn’t mean that like anyone coming in today isn’t going to run into a situation where, hey, I’m a team of one, this is hard. My executives don’t understand the value of what I do yet. But But to your point, as an industry, overall, like the level of interest and attention that we’re getting, the level of understanding and awareness there is I think that customer education can and should do those things for our business is there in a way that it wasn’t necessarily earlier.

Stephanie Pellegrino  09:05

And that’s where as I start to have conversations with people on my team, or colleagues of mine, or people that were on my team and are starting to look at like, Hey, Stephanie, like what was your path? I find that it’s so interesting, because there are things that I can say now that I wouldn’t have even thought of them or even questions I give them to ask, you know, if they’re interviewing somewhere, it’s like, you know what, here’s like three questions I would ask that A will make you look good. But B will give you answers into how that particular organization is thinking about education. And that can be telling in and of itself. A lot of the times,

Adam Avramescu  09:44

yeah, okay, I want to bookmark that. Because if you’re willing to share your questions, our audience probably wants to hear them. I mean, do it. Like maybe maybe before we go there, don’t let me forget about that. When people come to you for that sort of advice or when people are coming to you and saying hey, I want to build My current customer education like, what, what what are they telling you they want? Or what kind of questions are they asking you?

Stephanie Pellegrino  10:06

That’s actually really interesting. I think there are those that are already in the education space that asked me like, hey, what’s the path? And then I think there are those that are really curious about the education space and might have been in roles like CSM, or were at a lot of orgs. Today is doing the training, right? So you have to sort of suss out like, okay, for So who’s this conversation with? Is this with a customer success manager that wants to double down on the training and education part of their current role, in which case, okay, I’m going to coach that person to find a good opportunity for them in a slightly different way than Hey, I’m an instructor. And I’ve now taken on lots of different projects, and I’ve coached my other, you know, trainers that come on after me like, now I want to be ready to run a program, how do I make that leap? Those are going to be different, different things. But what it all sort of starts with is, I believe, a foundational understanding of does this person understand how training can support the larger businesses initiatives? I asked that person, do you understand what your larger business initiatives are? And like just even between us, let’s have a conversation? How can education and training help help with that, like walk me through it, you don’t have to get, you know, I don’t tell them like, Hey, you have to give me the specific metrics that you think you can meet. It’s more like just even walk me through it. Take yourself out of your day to day role. What sorts of things? Are we as an org? Or is your team doing as an org that supports those initiatives? And I find that that conversation is the first first thing to start getting us towards. Okay, how do I need to be thinking about this?

Adam Avramescu  11:49

Yeah, I don’t know that. Like, when I was an instructional designer, I wasn’t necessarily spending a whole lot of time thinking about how, how my business made money, or how my customers because I was working in an agency, like how my my customers made money, or what was going to make these projects successful for them. So like, I think I probably had a vague idea at that time that I wanted to move up in my career and wanted to get into management wanting to get into customer education, leadership, but I hadn’t like, I hadn’t drawn that connection out. It’s not just about getting really good at the thing that I was doing, which was instructional design and content development, or in your case, like being a really good instructor. Yeah, that there are also these like business skills and perspectives, you have to start to develop if you wanted to leave at that level,

Stephanie Pellegrino  12:30

which I think is something else that you mentioned, that I think is important there. Right is I also think what’s interesting about the training and education space right now is it’s not as flat as it used to be either. So what’s also really interesting, and maybe that’s actually not the best way to say it, but I used to, I used to feel really limited of like, okay, so do I just it’s it’s trainer, and then senior trainer, and then like, what where do I go to I have to be a director. And it was, I think there are a lot more options right now, because this space has has expanded. Now there could be your manager of just trainers, or you’re managing instructional designers, or you’re managing the program. I mean, there are even roles out there that I’ve had where it’s actually I had a strong dotted line to sales, because I was actually just selling education services in the sales cycles and helping it with that. There’s just so many other options. So I will also say that I don’t want someone listening to this to feel like oh, great. So really, my only answer is after this. I have to be manager, you really don’t. But if you are, there’s if that’s what you want. There are definitely ways that I wish I could have looked at things earlier, that would have helped me in the long run.

Dave Derington  13:43

What I want to interject here, something that I think from your narrative is really important, like what you said is that, you know, it’s not flat. And there’s a lot of things that you can be doing. And I think more gosh, the angle that I wanted to get to is that like, there’s so much diversity in this kind of role. And I think the key that you came at the key core value that I’m looking for in candidates who are going to move along in this role is that they they are customer success people. I don’t know how else to put it then the best customer education person is aware of the customer’s life, like yeah, they’re busy. They’ve got stuff to do they get it. And what this does is palpably forks off the sense of what we do from a more traditional educational narrative, where you might be like, you’re focused on getting people through the training and thinking of Kirkpatrick stuff and you’re not necessarily thinking about that customer experience. So when I say it was more about that whole

Adam Avramescu  14:51

I don’t know I don’t know. Like a new I think I think this is a new your audience. I don’t necessarily want to belabor this point because As I like, I want to talk more about, you know, the point about how do you get from here to there, but like, I think if you’re, if you’re in education, whether it’s like enablement or l&d, or customer education, like, heard of that, and maybe this kind of gets us into how you build your skills. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna pivot this over to you in a moment stuff, like, part of it is knowing the instructional foundations and principles. So you can design effective training, so you can affect behavior change. But the other half is, who is your audience, right, you need to know how to affect behavior change for your audience. So if you’re in like internal sales enablement, but you got to know your salespeople really well, and what motivates them. If you’re in customer education, you got to know the customer and like, why your customers do what they do. But then the other half of that is building the adult learning and instructional design skills and measurement skills like for Patrick, like are willing to framework on a skill to be able to affect that change?

Stephanie Pellegrino  15:56

Don’t you also think that Well, I think is actually why our space can be so hard. So if I think back to my days and workday, it was like four or five day long training sessions that were from nine to five, if I ever proposed that for a customer at Gong paid me like, No, thank you. I’m not, that’s not the right match for this product, this platform. So what I think’s also happened in the last 10 to 12 years, right? is like, subscription services, subscription platforms have absolutely taken off. And what this means is, everyone’s inundated with training and education. And even though it might not be what we’re saying is that like everyone wants a piece of that pie. So I also think that’s really interesting, because then we have to differentiate what we’re creating, and what we’re putting out there, what we’re coaching our teams to create, to know their audience to weave in the adult learning that we know, while mapping to what are the other things that our customers are getting inundated with every day? It just totally not related to our overall topic, but it’s just

Adam Avramescu  17:03

very No, but no, but it does. And I actually think there’s a direct tie back. Because when we think about someone, so someone comes to you, and I want to play this ad, because I want to hear all your like secret interview questions. It’s like someone is today’s an instructor or an instructional designer, they come to you and they say, I want to be the next great modern customer education leader and I want to be able to go in and nail my director level position interview, I want to be able to either build a team or lead a team. They’re gonna come to you, and they’re probably gonna have some questions about like, where do I start? And how do I get from here to there. And so I’m curious like how you actually walk them through it. But But the other thing that I think ties in and I want to go with here in a moment, too, is like, you’re probably getting a ton of advice or hearing a ton of like, received wisdom about, like things that you must do as a customer educator or things that you must do to be effective at education. And like some of that applies. And some of that doesn’t, because the nature of Education has changed over the past several years. So I’m just curious, like, like, if they come to you and say that, like, what advice do you give them? Where Where do you tell them to start? What interview questions, do they?

Stephanie Pellegrino  18:10

Yeah, well, so let’s actually go a step before that, because we touched on this briefly. But like, one of the first things is actually for me sussing out whether or not they really want to lead people or own programs. And that is one of my like, first things that are important, because I think, and this is this is why this topic really resonated with me is I think it’s people like ourselves that owe it to the generation of individual contributors beneath us and managers beneath us that want to do this. They we owe it to them to like, make sure they understand what are all the ins and outs. And part of that is my first conversation with someone that like wants to talk about that is let’s just real quick, like putting it back on them. Just so I know, what do you think I do? What is it about what I do that you that you want to do? And it’s just really making sure that they understand. It is not coming up with like new ideas every single day. And like it’s it’s execution, it’s figuring out, here’s the things and we’re gonna make it work and tie it to once again, the business initiatives or here’s the metrics to support this while doing people management. So like my actual first discussion is, do you want to own a program? Do you do you want to own an initiative, like, part of it is that that’s really different than saying, overarching, I want to own education and training or I want to do that. So I think it’s first figuring that out, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong in in someone working through that and figuring out actually, I don’t know that I want that that component of it. I actually just want to sort of like I think a lot of people in our space are just looking for career progression and the There’s this false assumption that career progression means you have to manage all of training and education. I don’t necessarily agree with that. And I think it’s up to us to find those roles for people and give them opportunities to own programs or initiatives within training and education to give them a taste of that. So it didn’t totally answer your question right away, Adam, but we know we can,

Adam Avramescu  20:21

but we can I love I love ya, I love the train of thought that you’re going down. Because I this happens to me all the time. Dave, I don’t know if this happens to you. Like, I talked to people who have taken on customer education, leadership positions, and maybe they’re like, you know, sometimes we talk about the accidental instructional designer or the accidental customer education, education manager, you know, shout out to Kenny being for the accidental instructional designer. Nomenclature, I think there is such a thing as the accidental customer education leader, someone who kind of gets like either forced into the position because they were the first person doing it, and they just kind of like raise their hand, maybe it’s as fun or someone who just kept over performing and got a promotion. And then all of a sudden, they’re like, I’m out of my zone of competence, or I’m out of my zone of joy and passion, where now instead of actually being able to build every day, or instead of being able to do instructional design, or instead of being able to work directly with customers, I’m like frickin managing people all day. And I’m like doing budget meetings. And I’m like dealing with politics. And so I know people who like, are seriously considering or actually have, like, opted out of program leadership, because they want to be closer to the work.

Dave Derington  21:32

Yeah. I can enhance this a little bit with with a little bit more. And this kind of gets into our mistakes made that one of the things I think early on is I was so excited about getting a team and develop and like tackling these big initiatives. Yeah, I was less in, I was less looking at the what does it take to grow that team, and really help us like get attract the right kind of talent that’s going to be with us for the long term? And be okay, well, here’s the point that I wanted to share, being in a hypergrowth company. I’ve worked with a lot of individuals that were earlier in their career trajectory, and a lot of them want it like came into a company like this. And what about like, what’s the next step? What’s the next thing? What’s the next thing, and in this field, because we were nascent and emergent, it was really hard to chart that course. In retrospect, I think I could have done a better job at it. But I go back to the things that you were saying, Stephanie, the like, what are those key litmus test questions for someone who is a leader? And I’ve seen a couple of people in my tenure, who have walked into those leadership roles, and like Adam, you were kind of alluding to, they’re like, Ah, no, this is not for me. Because you do realize that now you’re blending those management leadership skills, which are palpably different from the skills that you have maybe in education. And now you’re trying to level up you’re talking about the lines, elite exec leadership’s leadership, trying to do all these in like, the thing that I found like impoverishing at times is if my role as a leader wasn’t high enough, I’m not getting the cred from other people and other leaders to be able to affect change and organizationally. So there’s all kinds of things layered,

Stephanie Pellegrino  23:17

I couldn’t agree more. And I feel like so to take this to continue on with like, so what do I tell this person?

Adam Avramescu  23:28

Yeah, hearing back on the road to the fireworks,

Stephanie Pellegrino  23:30

but like and connecting, even to what like, connecting even to what Dave just said, what’s really interesting is, and I’ve said this to you both before, the reason I think it’s so important to be having this conversation now is I believe customer education is in a stage and is in a period right now very similar to where customer success was 10 to 12 years ago. And this is why it’s really important. That is when like the the leaders and best practices are made. This is when that mistake of you know, I remember early days where there were customer success managers that were really great at account management that all of a sudden had a team of, you know, 15 CSMs. It’s like, well, wait a minute, that’s a very different thing. I think the same thing is what I’m trying to help trainers, instructional designers learning experience, you know, curriculum developers, like there is a space here that, okay, let’s talk about what this means. Like how can I, let’s make sure that’s what you want. And then where I take that conversation with them is like, okay, so knowing that this is the direction you want to go. Like, then there’s some real opportunities as a leader to let them sort of sit in on conversations or ways that you’re thinking so I know what I’ll do is I’ll have one on ones with people on my team. And I’ll give them maybe a directive and then if this is someone that I know has been interested in a leadership role, we pull back and then say now I want to give you the context. Now I want to now I want to give you connect the dots for you why I’m asking to do this. And that, no, I just think it’s important to to have those connection moments. And part of this goes to what any good leader, right, the one on ones, the making sure to dedicate time to talking about career growth. But I think it’s so critical. I think it’s critical in every function, but especially in our space. And the last thing I’ll say, and this is not because I want to lose anyone from my team, I love everyone on my team and any team I’ve ever managed. There is also a world where managers have to be open to helping them find an opportunity externally, because it would be a lie, if we didn’t admit that what helped our careers was taking a slight step in a different direction to move up later. And that can happen it is there is a world where it doesn’t always happen in the org that you’re in today. And that’s the important part of teaching best practices to one another. Because I want to send that person off with nothing but the best of luck and well wishes to go then do what I was able to learn from orgs before. Yeah, go help that there’s a great role for you, that’s a great fit for you. It doesn’t always necessarily mean it’s going to happen at the org that that person is in in that moment. I don’t know if that makes sense. But

Adam Avramescu  26:25

that doesn’t make sense. And I think like as as the manager, one thing that you can do is like really be in touch with your with your team, not just about what what career ambitions and aspirations they have, but like, how are how are they building their portfolio? In the context of where they want to go? Like, do you know where they want to go? What experiences are they being offered? And their current role? How could they get more of what they want within their current role? Or perhaps with internal career progression? Or career mobility? Yeah. But like, Yeah, I agree, it’s important to be realistic that like, you know, especially in tech, where people shift jobs, you know, every few years, it’s like, we’re not all gonna be together forever. So how do we make sure that you get the most out of this experience?

Stephanie Pellegrino  27:11

And that’s where we can start talking about like, okay, so what are you going to bump up against, you’re gonna go to some organization, and they’re gonna have CSMs, doing all the training? How do you get it off their plates? How do you how do you do that? You’re gonna go and no one’s gonna believe that VLTs can help scale the business? How are you going to do that? These are like, it takes us directly to why this conversation to me is so exciting, is it’s like, there are so many lessons that we’ve, as leaders in this space have learned that it’s like, we should help them figure this out and make the dots and connect to that, so that when they make those leaps, whether it’s internally or externally, somewhere else, there’s like, a fine, there’s an understanding to some of those common questions and mistakes that like all of us in this space, have totally dealt with.

Adam Avramescu  27:59

Yeah, and like, if you’re, if you think that this is part of your career development, I’m talking now to people who want to be customer education leaders of the next generation, like, do do make it known and do plant the seeds and do be very open to, like, what what might be in your blind spots right now. Because I guarantee you that if you haven’t been a customer education leader before, it probably actually looks and feels different than what you think of AI look and feel like. So really, like seek out that feedback and plant the seeds. Because it’s not just going to happen randomly one day, like you’re typically not just going to get like a promotion out of nowhere. You have to really work towards it intentionally and have a have a sense of what you’re getting into. Yeah, great. So like, okay, so you talked about some of the mistakes that people make along the way or some of the like, the questions people maybe don’t know to ask, but should we talk about some of those?

Stephanie Pellegrino  28:53

Yeah, I love it. My, my first one is where in the organization does education sit? I think I think this to me, is like one of the most intriguing topics and you’re right, right. It’s easy. It’s it’s there’s a no brainer, right. But I think that’s what really, though, laughing aside, right? I think we’ve all realized in different moves that we’ve made. Where it fundamentally sits may not necessarily be to the CEO, but if the CEO or your C level executives do not understand the value of what education can bring to the business. It’s hidden too many layers deep in an organization somewhere. I feel like that’s a somewhat bold statement, but I’m willing to say

Dave Derington  29:45

I like that statement. That’s excellent.

Adam Avramescu  29:47

No, I think like one thing that customer education leaders know I think like as a customer education leader, you constantly need to be positioning the value of customer education to the whole business, and the more effective you are at doing that and not just how into your immediate departments goals, really like thinking holistically like that also helps you seize more opportunities. And that helps you show up in more ways

Stephanie Pellegrino  30:08

I am selling training constantly, every day, I am making sure that our cross functional partners understand the value in in what we’re doing, I think a well oiled training or is a differentiator in the market, like so if anybody out there has a training Oregon, you’re not helping your sales professionals, like position that training is a differentiator. Huge, huge, like missed opportunity there. Yeah.

Dave Derington  30:40

Can I Can I ask you to go deeper on that? Because when you like, I want you to refine or frame up what you mean by selling training and selling education? Because when I hear that, it, it could render itself as one thing,

Stephanie Pellegrino  30:55

but whatever, right. And I don’t mean literally selling dollar value. No, no, it’s such a good call. I got that you asked me to clarify. So actually here, and this is why it’s so important for, like the future leaders of the space to think about this. So first of all, let’s just say it some training costs money, some doesn’t depends, there are pros and cons to each. What I actually mean by selling training is one of the biggest mistakes that I made early on in my career was went full on siloed mode just created the training that like oh, I know, customers need this, they are going to need this VI, LT and this playbook and this on demand and like these trainings, and like, let’s just do it, let’s get our C sets and like I just charged for, I’m not saying I was wrong. But what I didn’t do was make sure that the sales team was positioning that training, as best practice for once the customer came on board, I didn’t make sure that customer success managers saw the value in that training versus just doing one off things on their own. And it wasn’t until I shifted that way of thinking, like that’s the biggest mistake that if I could go back and fix earlier, it would be it is like those cross functional partners, you have to constantly be making sure they understand the value of the content, the delivery, the the library of information that you are giving to customers, they have to understand what why they should drive customers there, instead of one off experiences that they might create, they have to understand what the impact is. So this gets into the weeds quicker, but also what I learned way too late, was trying to figure out if they go to training, can you in fact show that they do stickier things in your product and your platform than not? If you can show that that’s the selling of training? I mean, yeah, like

Adam Avramescu  32:52

really getting to that like attribution story. Like when people get trained when people can see your stuff, like what happens in the business, exactly, therefore, because then you

Stephanie Pellegrino  33:01

know, he is gonna go, I don’t want him to go to training, they’ll do too much in our product. And no CSM is gonna be upset that oh, wait a minute, if they go to training, I don’t have to do this. But I know it’s consistent. Like, if you can help show that. And I think that’s one of the biggest things that it just took me a while to figure that out.

Adam Avramescu  33:21

Yeah, well, and like that’s, I think part of that also, like we were talking a little bit about, like, received wisdom. And like trying to like figure out what to do from first principles, like a lot of people don’t know, necessarily, like all the ways that customer education can help a business and can help customers and therefore, like, you don’t necessarily know what to go out and sell. So I agree, like, focusing on that. And I’m really thinking about like, hey, for our business, like what does our business care about? What are our different departments care about? Like, how do I like when we talk about sell? To me that’s like, yes, have the data to position like why your thing is helpful. So you have to have like, built a program where you can have some data, but part of it is like really just thinking there’s so many ways we can help. How do we go help other departments do what they’re supposed to be doing

Stephanie Pellegrino  34:04

cross? That is the other thing that even just as a manager took me longer to realize that I’d like to admit, which is I also went in with the training is the solver of all problems, like how could you not see that? And I had a moment where it’s like, training can be a component of the solution. But I have to understand, what are my customer success management teams struggling with what like, what is this all here? I am thinking oh, I’m gonna make this VI LT it’s gonna solve all their problems, is it? Did I really understand what their things like their issues and their, you know, goals and objectives are? Same with my sales partners, marketing partners. And that, to me is what all like also is why it is so important of like, Where does education sit? Right? Because sometimes I feel if you’re tucked under, and for those listening, were like, well, what am I supposed to do? I can’t change it. That’s okay. A but you can change the way you think about things. But a lot of times what can happen is it’s tucked under, maybe somewhere so many layers deep that like you, as an education leader don’t necessarily know the answers to the questions we just said. But you can make your education team exponentially more valuable. If you do understand everything you’ve just said, Adam, like, what is customer success thinking? What are sales thinking? What’s marketing thinking? And then where can training play a role in each of those areas.

Adam Avramescu  35:29

And this stuff is hard to because like, especially when you’re like, tucked further into the organization, that also makes you more susceptible, sometimes to like some high level executive coming and being like, well, we need to build program X. And they’ve already decided like that you’re building program X. And it doesn’t necessarily put you in a position where you’re like, super ready to go back and push back and be like, well, we should actually do an analysis and figure out what’s most important, and what does X really going to do until we do Y instead of x. So like, that stuff’s hard, and you like as a customer education they like and I’ve, I’ve, like messed this up in my team, right? Like, yeah, like not being able to, like push back at the appropriate times or feeling like you have the like cache to push back and be like, well, I could build that. But if I build that, I don’t know if I’m really meeting the needs of these cross functional teams. So therefore, I think I might be building something that isn’t actually going to like go to market in the way that you’re

Stephanie Pellegrino  36:19

hoping it will, that lesson that you just said is what I think we should be discussing with our teams. When they come to us when these these people on our teams come to us with like, Hey, I’m thinking of doing this. It’s also than just like, giving them back some real time. So we go back to sort of like, What do I tell them? Some of the other things I’ll give examples of is a lot of times, you know, they’ll be like, hey, I want to do I want to try this out? Or I want to do this and or what would you do with this? And I think it’s up to us to to give them the opportunity to you tell me, what do you think the best thing for the businesses here and why? And give them some of that confidence. I’m not saying so that they can go into that next job opportunity and like push around a C level executive, but like they need to be able to think through. Here’s why. Here’s my idea. Here’s what it’s going to benefit. Here’s like the next steps. And here’s how I’m going to execute it and be able to say like, so that when someone does do what you said, Hey, do this. It’s like, Well, wait, have we thought about this or done this? Let’s favor the long term here. Like what about this? And I just think it’s helping make sure we’re having these discussions with our teams and people that are interested in this space so that we can also educate these other future education orgs that are coming.

Dave Derington  37:36

Yeah, you know, I want to add something on this that that came to mind. As, as you’re talking about providing value. One of the things that and this was a total fluke, and I now I will do going forward is that I had the opportunity to bring on an educational consultant. And what I mean by that is someone with a pedigree of master’s level education has been in big companies has also been in small startups. Yeah. And they were able to do something I blew my mind that the relationships that we started to have with other departments and teams, you know exactly how you were describing it, like, Well, what do you think? And how does this affect the business because that characteristic of someone look like they have that pedigree that academic academia, but they understand our universe? Yeah, which is fast moving all this hyper growth stuff. And then they were able to start influencing those other teams. And that came back full circle. So we found that over time, the influence we had, amongst everybody organizationally, was who was the first who was the first team, they’re going to call if product had a new thing that they wanted to do, or was struggling conveying some idea to, to decrease call deflection, or success teams scale team and success was trying to do some initiative, we became a center of excellence

Stephanie Pellegrino  39:00

that that makes. So that makes total sense to me. And I can understand if I put myself in the shoes of someone that’s listening to this, that’s like, I’m one person. Yeah, I don’t, I don’t have an education consultant. I just want to say, think about it. In that lens, though, talk to education consultants that are out there. How do you work with the teams? And if you can even bring a little bit of that into the yes, you’re the jack of all trades. Right now you’re doing it all, like just even starting to think about the business in that lens with a different lens that can be really helpful.

Adam Avramescu  39:32

You can be doing like the exact same work that you’re doing today. But but putting it through a different lens,

Stephanie Pellegrino  39:37

totally. And even if it’s trying things out, like try positioning to whether you’re reporting to a VP of success, a director of success or director of ops, it’s just, if you can try saying if we do this, my hypotheses is this. I mean, I very much think it’s like coming up with a here’s my hypothesis. Here’s what like start coming to your leaders with that and tying it to the results that could happen because of that, and not saying it’s gonna work 100% of the time, but that lens shift shifting it, I think is one of the most important lessons that I wish I had learned earlier.

Adam Avramescu  40:12

Yeah. And you know, there’s like you’re reminding me now to there’s this kind of a book recommendation I could make here. Have you read impact players by Liz Wiseman. I have it. It’s her. It’s her follow up to multipliers and multipliers is one of my favorite books to read as a manager or as a leader, because it’s all about, you know, yeah. How do you? How do you empower the people on your team? Impact players is the other side of that. It’s like, if I’m looking to advance in my career, or if I’m looking to be someone who’s not just a high performer, I’m putting in air quotes, but someone who truly creates impact for your organization. It’s not just about output, output output. It’s not just about like, succeeding and pushing through through dominance, it really is about knowing what’s important to the business, knowing what’s important to you in the broader context, knowing like, why your boss is trying to do what your boss is trying to do, and really like figuring out how you can align to that. I think

Stephanie Pellegrino  41:05

the other thing that’s really interesting that I just want to also say, and this is a call to leaders, in my opinion, like us today, which is, I also think there is a responsibility for us to give those beneath us an opportunity to shine when we can, it’s put them on programs in front of executives internally, put them on tiger teams that are happening on you know, cross functionally, like insert those on our teams where we can and then even things that like conferences, I love speaking at conferences, I want to do it. I’m not saying I don’t. But I’m starting to realize that what can also help is like, okay, but this instructional designer came up with this great process. Like let’s let’s shine the light on them are this trainers. And I think we also can help them by shining a light on some of what they’re doing as well. Not that we’re not, but just like, I think we continue, we need to continue to double down on that as well.

Adam Avramescu  42:07

Yeah, and I think like, I am thinking personally about things that I wish I had done better from that perspective. It’s like, How can I better succession plan? Like when I think about what happens, like if I’m going to leave the organization at some point, how do I really make sure that my team is set up for everything afterwards, and that that everyone can, can get to the next step if they want to get to the next step. And granted the next step looks a little bit different for everyone. It’s not necessarily like someone has to like step into my job after I leave. But there are probably people who would want to and there are probably skills or areas that they need to develop if they want to do that. And so like part of part of the thing that I like to be able to to keep doing better is like prepare people while I’m still in the role, you know, yeah. Really expose them expose them to your point to like some of those decisions.

Stephanie Pellegrino  42:57

Yeah, it’s so important

Adam Avramescu  43:00

because like I think the mistake I make a lot is like I take sometimes like the is this a G rated podcast like the the poop umbrella like the

Stephanie Pellegrino  43:12

podcast I’d be on is the G rated one but like whatever.

Adam Avramescu  43:17

I’m just realizing I don’t think we swear on this podcast. Oops, not swearing.

Stephanie Pellegrino  43:21

I just need you to know that I was warned by my my team and husband like don’t forget to not cuss on this podcast. So

Adam Avramescu  43:29

since we’re right since we’re not cussing it’s the poop umbrella where like you think your your job is to like be the umbrella that shields your team from all the feces that is raining downhill You know, honestly, you don’t

Stephanie Pellegrino  43:41

want to get into customer education now y’all I don’t know why you wouldn’t I mean not want to get into

Adam Avramescu  43:50

great there’s a lot of great things that rain down to the right but like you can’t you can’t like play that role all the time to like let your team like stopping you know the pool a little bit.

Stephanie Pellegrino  44:00

I also think that you know what else to that are things that like now I do a much better job of that I didn’t do before. One is I also think it’s really important I’m a big solution or someone comes to me and I’m like cool, let’s like work through it. I really have to pause I have my ideas for solutions but like to say to someone especially those that are thinking about like you know becoming leader it’s like hey, I have my thoughts on this. What are yours? Like yeah, what are yours and I pause I don’t have but I’m not as I wasn’t always good at that. And then the other thing that I think is really important is I try and constantly because we’re not sales because we’re not CS we are often times whether we like it or not education is not the one that’s talked about at the all hands all the time or but I am constantly sharing wins with my executive team. So that like they constantly see Like, here’s the great CSAT that we’re getting. Here’s the comments in the surveys. And I think a lot of times education shares those wins amongst themselves. But I try as hard as I can to share those up as much as I can so that every once in a while we do get that spotlight and man, the morale boost that comes with that is is huge.

Adam Avramescu  45:22

Yeah. But sometimes you’re like, well, this isn’t important enough. This isn’t like, this isn’t meaningful it is. tell you to stop if they don’t like it. Yeah, that’s how I feel. Yeah.

Stephanie Pellegrino  45:32

Or they’ll rain down on you with more feces, or they will.

Adam Avramescu  45:37

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I went there that was to go.

Stephanie Pellegrino  45:41

I know, we gotta go. So we have to go somewhat away more happy and clean. Before we wrap up. You got to take this somewhere way better.

Adam Avramescu  45:48

Okay. So like, so let’s let’s get to the fireworks factory like step? Did we hear your interview

Stephanie Pellegrino  45:52

questions? Okay, so I know we did. And I don’t think I gave them. So one of mine really is. And I’ve mentioned it a few times here. But like the things that I like to ask back to an organization are First off, were in this or were in the company does education sit? And why did you make that decision? Any candidate that doesn’t ask that? And is just asking where does it sit? And not why I think is an opportunity missed? I think it’s important to understand if it’s under ops, why if it’s under Services, why you if it’s under Services, is it because you want to charge for training eventually, under? Is it under office, because right now it’s just sort of a supporting thing. It’s not actually driving the efficiency like So understanding where either education sits, or this particular role is going to sit? And why is a huge for me, like number one interview question.

Adam Avramescu  46:49

And then we’ll like how you approach your program, as

Stephanie Pellegrino  46:52

Exactly. Second question for me is always sort of like what are the like current business initiatives? And where do you see Mr. You know, potential employer? Like, where do you see education and training playing a role in those? And so for me, I’m looking for answers like, okay, we’re trying to, you know, win the enterprise, or we’re trying to do Okay, so where is it that you think education can play a role in that? And then a third one, which I think is really hard to ask, but I think is important is how, how do you see this organization investing in education? Is it is it headcount, is it systems, because that’s the other thing I’ve learned along the way, an organization that isn’t willing to invest in a learning management system, or, you know, video players, or Camtasia, or articulate are things that a training team needs? And instead, it’s like, no, you’re going to sit over here. And you’re going to have to do everything with PowerPoint in a Zoom account. That tells me something, I’m not saying I’m not going to take that job, but I need to understand what this organization is willing to invest in. It might not be headcount right away. But is it tech stuck? Is it is it time? Those are for me, the three questions are, you know, when I’m talking to someone that’s looking into a place like those are the things I’d want them to be asking.

Adam Avramescu  48:15

Yeah, and I think those are such great questions, because they also give you they give you a sense of where the company is on their customer education journey, what opportunity you have, and as well. Like, what role you’re going to be playing in the business. Because if you go back to the idea of selling, and where you’re going to be most helpful, and where you’re going to be able to, like evangelize your customer success, it’s like, tying to those initiatives is the key to your success, but you need an investment to be able to make the difference. So you can

Stephanie Pellegrino  48:42

know what it’s worth, I am not suggesting anybody go on an interview and hammer those three questions out without like, like, those are just things that should be asked, but it’s not like not you got you got to give information and share experience, obviously do I just wanted to like set that precedent that I’m not suggesting we go in and just be like, here’s my three question. done if you do not answer the

Adam Avramescu  49:03

right, right, and well, they may not know, sometimes, too, like so then the question is,

Stephanie Pellegrino  49:07

and it doesn’t mean don’t take the role. Right. Like, it’s actually helpful. If they don’t know, that’s part of the conversation, like, Great, let’s talk about this. I’m really curious. So I just, and I think those are the types of things that if we can collectively as leaders in this space, just help those that are interested, a suss out, are you really interested in leading the overall education program? Or is it like initiatives that you’d like to take part in? Um, I even think it’s a world of trying to figure out is it customer facing education? Is it learning and development like, what do you get excited about? And then assuming they want to go down the customer facing education and training realm, I think it’s really working with them to figure out okay, so like, Why do you think you want that? Let’s talk through that. Let’s figure that out. Let’s like talk about what parts of that you’re ready for today, that you’re not and then like, let’s set up For regular scheduled cadence to go through those, and some of the onus has to be on them, by the way, but I think if we do good with that, we are setting up leaders for such better success than, than what? What we had out the gates, right. Like, I just think it’s it’s laying down a little bit of foundation for him.

Adam Avramescu  50:18

Yeah, like we didn’t have a lot of people who could mentor us in the same way that now we have the opportunity to mentor the next generation. It’s it didn’t exist, you know, there wasn’t a lot of customer education out there. And what did exist was largely in education services. So it’s your point of view, like really know what the business is trying to achieve back? Well, at that time, those businesses were really trying to achieve, like profitability through their education services that they were selling. So it was like very services based and not all customer education is now

Stephanie Pellegrino  50:43

exactly it’s it’s the space is shifted, like I said, it’s like CES, but like 10 or 12 years ago, there’s a lot of shifting pieces right now.

Adam Avramescu  50:51

Yeah, so tons of opportunity. I love the call to action to customer education leaders, to really grow and develop folks on their team. And I love the call to action to people who are interested in growing their careers to start asking those questions and really get in front of the development. Great. Oh, my gosh. Well, thank you, Steph, for being on our show today. It was a super enlightening conversation.

Stephanie Pellegrino  51:14

I really enjoyed this. This was great. I appreciate it. I’m going to never think of umbrellas the same way again. But like

Adam Avramescu  51:23

I didn’t come up with that metaphor for

Dave Derington  51:26

where you can own it. Now I

Adam Avramescu  51:29

don’t want to but if you listener wants to learn more, we have a podcast website at customer dot education where you can find our show notes and other material and hey, if you found value in this podcast, please share that helps us find other people. We love how the podcast is growing and we want to get exposed to more people. We’re on Twitter, you know where we are. We’re on LinkedIn stuff. How can people find you?

Stephanie Pellegrino  51:52

Same thing LinkedIn. Actually, I’m not a big tweeter. But you find me on LinkedIn. I’m definitely there.

Adam Avramescu  51:57

Thanks to Alan Coda for providing our theme music. We know many of you are subscribed. And what we really appreciate is a five star review on Apple podcasts to help our Share, share our little show with the rest of the world. Steph, thank you so much for joining us today. Really love to have you on.

Stephanie Pellegrino  52:13

Thank you really, really appreciate it.

Dave Derington  52:16

All right, everybody into our audience. Thanks for joining us to get out there educate. Experiment. Find your Cheers.

Adam Avramescu  52:25

Thanks for listening

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