Adam Avramescu  00:58

Welcome to CELab, the customer education lab. I am Adam ever masscue and I am here today with one of my favorite customer education leaders Alessandra Marinetti. Hi, Alessandra.

Alessandra Marinetti  01:11

Hey Adam,

Adam Avramescu  01:12

how’s it going?

Alessandra Marinetti  01:13

It’s going super well. Thank you. How are you?

Adam Avramescu  01:16

I’m doing well. Thank you. And we are doing something a little bit different today in a few ways. First, because we are both actually currently recording from Europe. So that’s not usual over it’s usually we’re in the US. Where are you today, Alessandra?

Alessandra Marinetti  01:35

I am in Rome, Italy, beautiful Rome, Italy. It’s a gorgeous day outside, sunny, wonderful. So and I’m nine hours away from my usual timezone which is San Francisco.

Adam Avramescu  01:48

I am a little jealous because I am in the Netherlands today in Amsterdam. And we have had a fall spring followed by another winter, and now it’s starting to get better. But perhaps fittingly, we didn’t want to do a national day off. We wanted to pick an international day of because neither of us are currently in the US. So we are proud to celebrate World Radio day. Yay. And what is podcast, but but radio if you think about it, yes. Right. So okay, one of the reasons that it was unusual is because where we are physically located, but another reason why this is maybe a little bit of a different episode is every once in a while, we like to do episodes, which is really just, you know, conversations between customer education leaders, what are the sorts of topics that we talk about? How do we think about leadership? And in fact, we did an episode not too long ago with Steph Pellegrino where we talked about the next generation of customer education leaders and, you know, what do they need to do in their careers to move up? And then what do we need to do as as customer education leaders to really help set the stage for the next generation? So I see this almost as a continuation of that conversation in a way. So Alessandra, like, let’s, let’s get started. The reason why we wanted to have this conversation is because you had recently read a book that is actually one of my favorite leadership books of all time. tribal leadership.

Alessandra Marinetti  03:25

Yeah, exactly. And in fact, I read the book based on your recommendation. The book is called tribal leadership by Dave Logan. junking and Haley Fisher, right, which is a mouthful, I won’t remember all these names.

Adam Avramescu  03:41

Like Logan, Logan, et al. That’s right. No apologies to the other two.

Alessandra Marinetti  03:47

Yeah, I know for sure. And it really blew my mind away. Because it’s not one of your typical leadership books that have a lot of very useful, you know, tips and tricks and tools. This book really gets to the core of the culture of organizations and how you can take organizations through the stages of innovation and productivity, and really creating work environments that work better for everyone, not just for the business, but also especially from my perspective for the people in it. So it really blew my mind away. And it really gave me the kind of different view in terms of how I think about leadership, the way that I manage the way that I lead the way that I involve others in the conversations around leadership. So it was it was just an incredible experience. And that’s why I can rambled on with you that was something that we absolutely need to talk about.

Adam Avramescu  04:51

Yeah. And you and I had, you know, some good pre conversation about this, too. This is this is a book that I read, you know, I think closer to when it came out probably about a decade ago. And I think it has had such an impact on the way that I lead and the way that I approach management and leadership and culture within an organization. So let’s, let’s talk about why it’s so impactful. And maybe maybe to do that, first let’s, let’s talk a little bit about what it is. And, you know, kind of what what the methodology is you want to talk a little bit about that?

Alessandra Marinetti  05:22

Yeah, definitely. So the authors have done, undertaken about a 10 years journey of research in 1000s of organizations. My understanding is that it’s mostly in the US, but these are large organizations, and therefore kind of they touched on the international side of it, as well. And they looked at the culture of what they call tribes. So the these are naturally occurring groups, within organizations and within society, really, that are not aligned with the org structure, you know, they’re not kind of top down, imposed. But these are naturally occurring ones, for example, our customer education groups and communities, our tribes, right,

Adam Avramescu  06:08

yeah, sort of based on the idea that, you know, as they’ve done like, broader anthropological research, it’s that the, there’s kind of a naturally occurring upper upper bound for how big like a human tribe can be. Right? That’s exactly

Alessandra Marinetti  06:20

right. Yeah. So they talk about a tribe being anywhere between 20 and 150 people, and an organization is that tribe of tribes, right? So these groups are somewhat small in nature, because that’s the way that human beings can interact, and they cannot know 1000s of people well, and the idea of a tribe is that you know, the people in the tribe well enough to ideally, and hopefully trust them, and interact with them and share it and have something in common with them.

Adam Avramescu  06:51

And which is actually interesting, like this is not necessarily maybe maybe this isn’t, you know, rocket science, but sort of explains why when you’re growing as a startup, and you kind of hit that upper bound, you’re you’re past 150 people, the organization, culture, inflects, probably in a different way than it does say, when you’re going from 300 to 500, or even maybe, like 500 to 1000, because at that point, you’re already in tribes of tribes. So now maybe you’re thinking a little bit more about your department or your team?

Alessandra Marinetti  07:20

Yeah, that’s a that’s a very good observation. And what I, what I think kind of this leads to, is that an organizational culture, if you will, is kind of a an over imposed structure, if you will, across the tribes. But the tribes in and of themselves can have their own individual culture. And that’s probably the kind of adds complexity to the management of a culture within within a large organization. And what I think is really interesting about the aspects of these cultures is tribal cultures, is that they really hinge on individual values, and their behaviors and the language that they use. So maybe we can kind of go into the various stages.

Adam Avramescu  08:14

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So they divided into five stages, right. And I think they’re actually not just based on organizational behavior. I think they also make a tie to life outside the organization, too, right? Like, especially when we think about the like, like, what is what is stage one? Alexandra? Yeah, that’s

Alessandra Marinetti  08:30

right. So stage one is the the most despairing one, if you will, is the stage where people have an idea that they the author call it Life sucks, right? That’s the language that people in that stage express themselves in. And they it’s the stage of despairing hostility. Fortunately, within the work environment, only 2% of organizations are like that. They give the example of the DMV in the United States. DMV,

Adam Avramescu  09:02

and they say, it’s also not like, it’s not organizationally primarily like like, like organizations, quote, unquote, that are like this are like prison gangs, right?

Alessandra Marinetti  09:11

Or people who have no stuck go postal, if you will, right.

Adam Avramescu  09:14

Actually describes they’re talking about there. Yeah, so maybe actually,

Alessandra Marinetti  09:17

DMV is more like stage students than stage one. But the idea of this life suck mentality is that you don’t have any hope. And so, you know, it’s probably from, from my perspective, a little less interesting in the context of an organization because again, fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often. But it’s certainly something that we need to look at as a society, especially with what’s going on in the world right now with the various wars right now. So that’s definitely something that we as individuals should definitely take a look at. The second stage is the one in which people look at their lives as sucking so that the language that they uses My life sucks.

Adam Avramescu  10:02

So we went from like, life sucks period to My life sucks. Exactly. There. There might be other people now who are okay, but exactly

Alessandra Marinetti  10:09

like I look at you, and I see that you’re successful and you’re doing something that I wish I could do, I can’t do it and therefore my life sucks.

Adam Avramescu  10:18

And listens tends to like create a lot of like victim martyr mentality, right?

Alessandra Marinetti  10:22

That’s exactly right. They call it the apathetic victim, the the authors call it the apathetic victim. And you can see this in they say in about 20 25% of organizations, so it’s definitely a sizable number. And within organizations, even, you may have a group of people who feel that way, while other people are at different stages. And the the mentality of the behavior of these people is a pathetic, so they’re not willing to put themselves out there, they’re not coming up with ideas, they’re not willing to pitch in. They’re just discouraged. You know, they’re there. That’s like the typical victim mentality. So I, for me, the the idea of this book is that you help as a leader, as a tribal leader, you help people going from stage to stage and evolve from the the behavior and the language that they use in the feeling that they have to for the betterment of themselves in the culture.

Adam Avramescu  11:24

Yeah, because you’re not really going to be able to like skip steps that easily. That’s right.

Alessandra Marinetti  11:28

In fact, yeah, you’re now kind of not supposed to, because you cannot take somebody from Stage Two to stage four or five that we’ll talk about in a second people are not ready for that jump yet.

Adam Avramescu  11:42

Okay, so we go from Stage Two to stage three, what’s what stage three,

Alessandra Marinetti  11:46

stage three is the, like a calf of the organization’s certainly in the US, but probably in other parts of the world, is where people have a feeling of or to express themselves in terms of, I’m great. And then the underlying the unwritten, unspoken second sentences, and you’re not. And that’s the the idea, the mentality of the lone warrior. And what I want to prove this, one of the the stages that really drew me in and really made me appreciate this book, because I think most of us, many of us grew up in a world where that was the thing to aspire to, but I am great. I concur, I rule and I if I can, to get to when when I need to be able to be great, I’m going to squash you, I’m going to just stomp all over the rest of the

Adam Avramescu  12:42

very, like individualistic high performer I call it it’s a you know, it’s like the the great man model of performance. Yeah, exactly. Or, like stack ranking really follows this, this philosophy, right, if you’re gonna do performance reviews, and, you know, a certain quota has to be in exceeds and a certain quota has to be in doesn’t doesn’t exceed, it creates these types of dynamics, where there have to be some people who are essentially crushing other people, because they are great, and the other people aren’t. And the other people are then thinking my life sucks. Yeah. And maybe they have a point, if they you know, depending on how the other organization is.


Absolutely. And what’s interesting is that, you know, in a, in an environment where there are people at that level, that stage three, that creates a lot of stage two mentality, right? Because if I’m your boss, and I am that that person who thinks I’m great, and everybody else sucks, I’m going to treat you that way. You know, you’re my subordinate. And, you know, I’m not going to give you enough to do I’m not going to micromanage you. And that creates misery. Right? In, its weak. Right? Right. And I believe it’s, it’s important for us to get past this mentality, even though it is important to, for people to feel that they are great, because that enables them to then move on to the next stage not to to, to feel that they are that they can contribute, right, that they have a lot to say that they have a lot to contribute to the world. The fact that they are not sharing that the fact that they are not expanding that greatness beyond themselves creates an environment of misery.

Adam Avramescu  14:24

Yeah. And you know, one thing I really like about this book and maybe this goes back to your comment at the very beginning about this being a kind of a different a different take on on a management book besides just like tips and tricks for performance, is that they really focus on this juncture this moving out of stage three and into stage four, which we’ll we’ll discuss in a minute, but it’s kind of going from like AI to we just SPOILER ALERT it I don’t know that a lot of books really nail the importance of that transition, right because we are so ingrained in a lot of ways to think about maximizing our own performance and becoming top performers and developing top performers as managers, that we don’t necessarily think about the unintended consequences that it can create, where someone who is a really high performer can essentially crush people around them. And, you know, I’ve even thought about this, like, in my own experience, as a high performer, I’ve probably done that to people in the past, because I just want it to succeed so badly. And definitely, as a manager, I’ve managed people who are exceptionally talented, and really wanted to get to the next level really wanted to do the next thing, but you could kind of see like the damage that that they were causing to people around them. And it’s really hard to say, hey, you know, like, this is this is behavior that should be rewarded. So anyway, long way of saying, I really love that it actually slows down and spends a lot of time on this transition from stage three to stage four.

Alessandra Marinetti  15:55

Yeah, no, absolutely. And one thing that occurred to me as I was reading the book, is that in stage three, even though people are conscious of their capabilities, and their highperformance, etc, they know their worth and their value. I think that the stage three approach really stems from a sense of insecurity is the typical the classic impostor syndrome, I am at the top of my game, and yet, they’ll find me out, eventually, you’ll know that I’m an impostor. And so to me, this stage three is also kind of, permeated by a sense of insecurity. And therefore, in order to keep my position, I have to put you down, you know, the rest of the team, etc. Because I’m not comfortable in my position, because I think that if I withhold knowledge from you, if I withhold information from you, you’re not going to replace me, right, that there is that that zero sum game mentality, in a way that creates misery kind of across the board? No, and I think it’s something that is not often discussed and viewed. Now, this idea of the Superman often, you know, the superhero, kind of provides that, that sense of it has the people in who feel that way have that sense of insecurity in a way that need to move from in order to go into stage four. So that was kind of an epiphany for me, in terms of like,

Adam Avramescu  17:27

it’s almost like, this is this is like a hard left turn. It’s like, it’s almost like a fascistic view of management, right? Like you have to have a an in group out group dynamic and the in group has to be right and has to be pure and the outgroup has to be inherently inferior. And so you might be spending your time doing good things. But ultimately doing those good things is going to be overshadowed by the amount of let’s call it propaganda that you’re you’re putting out there to keep everyone else down. Yeah. And so you’re actually working twice as hard to secure your own status.

Alessandra Marinetti  18:04

Yeah, absolutely. And the the one thing that the authors talk about is exactly the amount of time wasted in what they will they call it creating dyadic relationships. So if I want to be at the center of the universe, because I am great, and you’re not, I’m not I’m going to form one relationship at a time. And I’m not going to share any of these relationships with anyone else, right. So I have my, my in group is in the shape of a diet, I talk to you. And then I talked to somebody else, and I talked to somebody else, but I certainly do not introduce you all for fear of you supplanting me or you kind of talking behind my back or you know, you forming other relationships. And that’s where

Adam Avramescu  18:53

the hub that everyone else has the spokes, but then of the spokes connect to each other, they all just connect to the hub. Yeah, which like, they make this a sort of an interesting, like, subplot throughout the book, which is that when you move say from stage one to stage two, or or like stage two to stage three, maybe starting to form some of those dyadic relationships is actually helpful. Because if you’re at stage two, you probably don’t have a lot of like good relationships. To begin with. You might have like other co workers that you’re really just like complaining with, but you’re you don’t necessarily have a lot of positive relationships. So it’s like, when you’re moving into stage three, actually starting to produce those relationships is really helpful. But you have to be able to quickly move out of that. And not, not hoard relationships, not hoard information. Yeah. Because it’s kind of going to go into really like sharing, right?

Alessandra Marinetti  19:43

That’s right. Absolutely. And that probably takes you to stage four. And stage four is the moment where people begin to talk. In terms of we, we are great. There’s a slight underlying assumption that and you and I Anybody else is not. But that is somewhat healthy, if you will, because if a company has a competitor, and the competitor is in great that can create a, an environment where people are trying to, you know, outsmart the competitor, and therefore, to do to innovate, etc, as long as within themselves, they believe that they are great together. So I think this is a really important point, this is not a, like a new agey, oh, the power of we know, we are all better if it’s just we, this is a real, they concrete approach to human relationships and to management therefore. So if I believe that we together are better, I behave differently. And I think this is especially important for a manager because the manager in stage four, the tribal leader, is somebody who shares information who is as transparent as possible, who works to align people behind shared values, not my values. So I’m not going to impose my values, because I’m the manager, and therefore you have to suck it up. But it’s really about coming together with, you know, building a sense of shared values and shared community, and then aligning behind what they call the noble cause. Right. So what do we stand for? You know, what do we as a group send for? I think, intuitively, this makes a lot of sense that this will create a lot of loyalty and the sense of belonging, you know, we, as a group, have come up with a set of shared values, a set of a sense of purpose, then we can much better work with one another. And, you know, there’s trusting gender now, all sorts of goodness and positivity afterwards.

Adam Avramescu  21:55

Yeah. And I think like, one thing you see really good managers do here, or good leaders, I guess we should say leaders, not managers, yeah, is exactly what you said, the collaborative vision setting collaborative value definition. And even if a team already has shared values, or a shared mission, or a shared vision, going back and revisiting that, because especially with a fast moving company, you know, that’s going to change over time. So I really, I think that’s a really important one, you I think you also see good managers or leaders at this level. Connecting people and putting people on their teams in the spotlight, that’s something that we talked with Steph Pellegrino about is, you as the manager, you, as the leader don’t always need to be the one giving the presentation taking the opportunity, like it’s a it’s a good chance to put your team in the spotlight to

Alessandra Marinetti  22:49

totally Yeah, absolutely. And so the authors talk about the idea of the trials, right, at this point. Anyone who is at stage four, enables others to take advantage of their own relationships. So if I know you, Adam, and I know Steph, and the two of you don’t know each other, I’m going to connect the two of you because you have something that you can share, right? And that’s, it’s a, it’s a game of returns in a way, right? It’s, it’s a proliferation of, of goodness, and against the sense of shared values and whatnot. I was also thinking about how the values of a tribe align, or augment, if you will, the values of an organization in my last company up direct, I worked with my team to, to build our own values in our academy values. And those were focused not only on of course, they were in alignment, they had to be in alignment with the rest of the organization otherwise would be outside of it. We couldn’t go counter. But within our small group, we worked to figure out who we stood for what we stood for now what how do we view customer education? How do we view designing for upskilling and expanding competencies now how do we want to interact with one another? So it was kind of a subset of groups that we collectively came up with together? And that created an incredible sense of belonging with one another. And that created kind of a even though technically the group was not the tribe that the logon and I’ll talk about because it’s was it was less than 20 so I think it

Adam Avramescu  24:37

all treat we can treat our teams like principle still stand right? Spiritual sighs Yeah, I think like another thing you do. Well, Alessandra, you know, if you if you would like some unsolicited praise is, I think you’re a really strong connector. I noticed that you often connect people with each other. You connect people with me, but I see you connecting other people as well. I know that you used to work at LinkedIn. And I’ve heard you describe yourself sometimes as the human LinkedIn, because we make connections between people. Yeah. And like, I think that’s a really sweet way of putting it.

Alessandra Marinetti  25:11

Thank you. And I appreciate that. It’s so interestingly, and I think this is a really important point. Interestingly, even people who feel like that, and I do feel like and I’m certainly want to be a connector, I strongly believe in the power of connection. Depending on where people are in, in their career or in their in an organization, they may revert back to earlier stages. I know I have behaved as a stage three, manager, manager, not leader right now, I know that I have withheld information. And then I realized that I was doing so right. And I would ask myself, why you’re doing this is there’s a silly, right. And I think it depended on how comfortable I felt about my position. And whether I felt that I might be on shaky ground, or I was maybe there was something that was going on within the organization, it was a reorg. Right. So yeah, what I think is important to point out is that people can revert back and forth also, depending on the condition of the organization, or the economy or the world. And we have to always be very present to ourselves, to make sure that we move back up, if you will, to the upper stages, if

Adam Avramescu  26:33

Yeah, like it’s, it’s easy to be stage four, when everything is going really well. And you have a lot of time, and you can be super intentional about everything you’re doing. But you’re right that it’s really easy to revert, even just through like lack of care or lack of maintenance of these these values. Like I agree I, I’ve noticed myself reverting more into stage three, or even stage two types of behaviors. When say like when the the more the more political. The environment gets, or or like the more maybe arbitrary the politics feel like I can feel my energy draining. And it’s like really hard for me to show up as the type of stage four stage five leader that I want to be. I don’t know that I start like hoarding information and stuff like that, but it shows up in other ways.


Yeah. Yeah. And absolutely, that’s why I’m so passionate about this book, because this reading this book creates an awareness that once you have it, it’s there, you cannot, you can have gotten the Epiphany, if you will, that these stages are there, they’re real, every one of us probably has gone through them at some point or another. And you always have the tools to go back up, you know, to climb up the stages.

Adam Avramescu  27:53

Yeah, so it sounds like, like, if you use this as a framework, this is what it sounds like you’re saying, and I think this I do this too, is like, it’s important to keep this framework in the back of your mind so that you can constantly be doing your own health checks, which, you know, what, what stage Am I at? What stage is my organization at? If you’re working within a broader tribe, what what stage is that tribe at maybe what what is the company at? And I think one thing that that, you know, especially when I first read this book, I you know, for a while, like I was seeing everything through the lens of the stages, and I was really thinking a lot about, well, what stage is my company at what stage? You know, and, and I would always think like, yeah, man, we’re stage, we’re stage four, we’re crushing it, we’re great. Everything’s great. And then I think over time, I would realize maybe that was like a, you know, kind of an ambitious diagnosis. And I’d become more like evenhanded about trying to really like pay attention to how people are talking and kind of what’s going on behind the scenes, because I think sometimes the language obscures the actual behaviors, you can have like a stage three organization that talks like they’re stage four, but then you look at like, how is performance assessment done? Who’s whose performance or behavior is really rewarded? Where do you see dynamics of high performers crashing low performers like that stuff could all be happening while you’re speaking the language of stage four

Alessandra Marinetti  29:23

totally and especially because the the, we terminologies become a bit of a fad. I think that language can be mistaken for level four for stage four, when it is in fact you know, the organization might be at Stage Three or the individual might be a stage three. So for me the the one marker of a stage four leader or stage four, you know, manager leader and is the idea of relinquishing control for real and by relinquishing control. I mean that the person So I have to be comfortable that by giving by trusting others by enabling them to do their job, right with instead of micromanaging them, or instead of, you know, withholding information, etc, that they will do their not only their job, but we as a group will be much, much better off, right? It’s, I think it’s, you have to have a level of comfort within yourself to be comfortable in relinquishing that power. And in order to do that, you have to have gone through that idea of that, that those stages of identifying values that we all aligned behind, you know, and identifying that common purpose that come that noble cause. Once that is happened, and you’ve worked together for a bit, that comfort level, I think, all is almost automatic. But it doesn’t come automatic immediately. And it doesn’t come easy. And naturally for everyone. I think that’s a crucial, crucial component of being a stage four leader.

Adam Avramescu  31:04

Yeah, and you know, you mentioned the noble cause, which reminds me, we haven’t even talked about stage five yet, which the book doesn’t really talk that much about stage five, either. But should we talk just briefly about what it is?

Alessandra Marinetti  31:15

Yeah, definitely. So stage five is, is actually not necessarily stable stage. It’s not a place of bliss, where you that you’re supposed to live in all the time. It’s a place that you visit, and it’s that moment where you don’t say, We’re great underlying assumption, you’re and you’re not. It’s the idea is that life is great. And what that more can, in practical terms it means is that you’re not in competition with another company, you’re in competition, say, for a pharmaceutical company, you’re in competition with cancer, right? You want to you want to defeat cancer, so you have a very novel cause that you’re not really competing against another company for right. And that isn’t, you know, the others in their research. They haven’t seen organizations that stay there, they get there and they stay there. They go there, occasionally they accomplish something fantastic. And then they may go back down to stage four, because maybe they’re not they now need to go back and, and competing with other organizations that maybe have achieved something similar. They talked about, so

Adam Avramescu  32:32

yeah, it’s, it’s hard to stay at that stage for sure. Because like, you know, inherently, like if you’re doing something so great, the competition is gonna come in. Or, you know,

Alessandra Marinetti  32:41

the the example that they gave is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa that Desmond Tutu, and others put together. The interesting thing about is that they they say that, no, but there was no blueprint for what they did write, there was no blueprint whatsoever for introducing such a novel notion of bringing together you know, sworn enemies and having them form a society that could function moving forward. And so doesn’t mean that South Africans stayed at that level forever and ever. But during that time, that group of people was at stage five. I don’t That’s what I think it’s a really interesting exemplification of what level stage five could be.

Adam Avramescu  33:33

Yeah, it’s like that transcendent moment where all of a sudden you’re operating on a. You said, this one’s called innocent. Wunderman. Right. Yeah, exactly. The outside world has nothing to do with what you’re doing. Yeah. Yeah.

Alessandra Marinetti  33:46

And I think it’s interesting, if you think about if I think about the customer education, cause, if you will, I know that I always try to think about education teams as building something that is category defining domain defining to me that has a lot to do with the novel cause I get fine. I’m working for a company that has a specific tool that enables people to do something better. I want to train them and teach them how to be great at that domain, not just my tool. Right. I think that’s a really interesting purpose and shared goal to align behind.

Adam Avramescu  34:29

Yeah, or like for a lot of organizations who run programs where they’re, they’re helping, you know, skill up the the future job market or Yeah, right. They’re helping people get jobs like that’s a really that’s a noble cause. Right,

Alessandra Marinetti  34:40

exactly. You can find a noble cause in many organizations, maybe not all of them. But that many organizations can definitely change the way that people operate in a much better way. So as long as it’s clear that there is an alignment, and that again, the shared values had been To build together, I think you you’re in a good spot.

Adam Avramescu  35:04

Yeah. So I think like, when we think about how to put this into practice as customer education leaders, and some of this is just going to be general leadership, which, you know, is always good to talk about. But maybe some of this is something we can think about specifically through the lens of being customer education leaders, or being in the customer education feel like, I guess you hadn’t read the book until recently. So I’m curious, like, do you when you read it? Did you feel like you noticed maybe examples of yourself in the past where or where it aligned with the values? Or it’s like, oh, this explains why I acted this way, in this situation? Like, I’m curious how it resonated with you there?

Alessandra Marinetti  35:48

Yeah, for sure. As they said, No, this was a an epiphany. For me, reading this book was an absolute epiphany for me. And, you know, maybe because I come from Italy, and Italy has, to some extent, somewhat more of a communal culture, to some, you know, in some respects, when I came to the United States, which I preferred and perceived as a somewhat more individualistic society, where the strong man was the one winning, I realized that I was infusing some of my, let’s call it Italian nests, for just for oversimplification into the way that it was managing and my desire was always to be inclusive, and to work with others to really think about who we want to be as a group, and to never impose my will. But rather due to come to come to, to come up with values and a purpose together. For Of course, if I’m a manager, I will have a mandate in some cases. So I may need to also steer the conversation. But come intuitively, I’ve always strived to be inclusive and to to be a connector to your point. And conversely, as I was saying, Before, the times when I realized that I wasn’t acting as a as a stage for tribal leader, it was because I felt insecure, I felt uncertain, I felt maybe I wasn’t sure as to what I was doing. I had the impostor syndrome, I maybe there were things that were changing in the organization. And I didn’t know where I would stand afterwards. And my instinctive reaction was to kind of close myself inwardly. And, you know, kind of go against my, my own principles and values.

Adam Avramescu  37:50

Yeah, that that impostor syndrome point is, is really important, I think, and relevant to customer education leaders, because the face of customer education changes, right. And so if you have learned everything that you’ve learned in, you know, one scenario and let you know, let’s, let’s say, I’m not trying to pick specifically on people who are in like, you know, pretty SAS on prem education services, I’m just going to use this as an example. Like, there were there were very codified best practices, you know, at a certain point, for that style of education services, there was a certain way you did things, there were, you know, pretty established practices to run a p&l. And, in fact, maybe the other side of that is, you know, you go to an l&d conference, and every year, there’s some new trend or some new best practice or something that you’re supposed to be, you know, running towards aggressively. And if you go to that stuff, as a customer education leader, you might feel like you’ve missed the boat, right? Because you see everyone talking really big game about how they’re implementing all these innovative new practices, or how the way they’re doing things is the right thing. And then you go back and you’re like, Well, I’m not doing that in my business. And that makes you feel really insecure. Maybe it gives you imposter syndrome, that you’re not like doing things the right way. And I think I’ve had to like, every time I come back from a conference, I have to like shake that part of me off where it’s like, let me take the parts that feel both like interesting and implementable. And use those as a guidepost and really like discuss them with my team. Not just try to like ram, ram them down everyone’s throats. But let me not sit there and wallow about how everyone went on stage and presented the ideal version of their lives and then feel regret that I’m not doing that myself. Because that’s what I think are one of the things I think that creates that sort of insecurity.

Alessandra Marinetti  39:55

I would even take that further I think in in the education Should space, we’ve often felt like the stepchild. Right education is the first team that gets cut. Maybe we alongside with marketing potentially. And you know where we don’t count we don’t have a seat at the table. And that I think it has created a bit of stage two syndrome, if you

Adam Avramescu  40:21

will, it’s a really good point. Yes. Yeah,

Alessandra Marinetti  40:24

you know where you are the little Cinderella, who is really not well thought of, and you will never get resources. No, you always know we always hear this in our field. I think that’s definitely that applies to customer education, but I think in education in general, and then the and so forth, that we’re the ones that have the fewer resources and whatnot.

Adam Avramescu  40:46

Yeah, and so it seems like the solution to that sometimes is to try to be like, you know, the Napoleon of education or the Napoleon of l&d, and like, you know, try to like, brute force your way through. Like, because you’re because, okay, like, we’re all we’re all victims, but I’m going to be the one who overcomes that. But like, really, like, maybe it goes back to your point of like, we all have a responsibility to continue to lift up education as a discipline. And, you know, for us customer education as a discipline, because it’s, it’s not that anymore. It’s not like we’re not victims, we actually have a ton of traction and a ton of attention.

Alessandra Marinetti  41:24

100%, especially in the last few years, we’ve talked about this a million times, you know, we’ve seen more jobs, more roles being advertised, certainly in the US, but even even outside. And I think it’s really incumbent upon us to not to feel victims, but to figure out how to express the values that we stand for you and Dave, of course, I’ve done the beautiful customer education manifesto. That’s one, one thing to rally behind, right, one way to look at customer education to in our respective organizations to share what we stand for share what is our noble, noble cause, if you will, and how that impacts the success of the organization. I like to look at it from the internal perspective, right, if if someone said, level five or stage five perspective, if we feel that life is great, then we in customer education have a ton to contribute to this life. And maybe we are training a way of educating people on the this category that our company, company product works on. So to me, it’s really a matter of not looking at other teams, not looking at other organizations, but looking at what we can contribute what we can do for the organization for ourselves, for our teams, and whatnot. And that’s

Adam Avramescu  42:55

because like the first question your leadership always asks you is like, well, what are other people doing? How can we be like Salesforce? How can we be like HubSpot? What are our direct competitors doing look at their academies, look at their knowledge programs? Oh, this peer that we have in the industry that’s in our same, you know, that has our same VCs is doing this or using this software, right? There’s like a lot of pressure to think about that. But you’re right, that can’t be the primary lens, you have to think first and foremost about like, what do we want to build on our team for our customers?

Alessandra Marinetti  43:28

Yeah. And you know, getting learning from other people’s best practices is, in fact very much a level four stage for right now. Yes, absolutely. Connecting ourselves and with one another, we learn from each other, and we bring back those experiences, but we still need to translate them into our organizations. So it’s great to go to back to our leaders and say, yep, I can show you what other organizations have done what Salesforce has done what HubSpot have done has done. And here’s what we want to do for our organization because our product does x and because our domain is x and because we our values are x right?

Adam Avramescu  44:05

Yeah, it’s like you can’t you can’t get hung up at that point on like, why you’re not the other people. Yeah, you’re using that as like data and as as competitive intelligence to like, help you understand what you can and should do. But you can’t get stuck in those feelings of insecurity and impostor syndrome or whatever. You actually can’t treat it as a competition. Maybe maybe another lens to look at this through because because I think we talked about this previously is like, let’s say you are trying to figure out what stage you’re at. And here I’m really thinking about the stage three to stage four transition because I think a lot of our listeners are probably in one of those two. And you want to get like really honest with yourself, you want to be like okay, like I’m a high performer. I think I’m a good leader. Which stage Am I really in? How do you do that? How do you really like get real We’ll wrap up.

Alessandra Marinetti  45:00

Yeah, I, this is a really interesting question. I think what can really help is almost like engendering an epiphany in terms of how people how the world looks at you, for example, if you get a 360 degree assessment about how people perceive you, and how your team perceives your, your peers, procedures, etc, you can really get a good sense as to whether you are at the stage that you want to be at and whether you are at a stage four leader or whether in fact, you’re still behaving at a different level. I think also identify kind of, if you’re, if you read the book, looking at the behaviors that people exhibit in stage three, like, Am I just building dyadic relationships? And my only keeping the knowledge to myself? Am I only keeping people to myself? Or am I actually sharing? And if I’m not, what can I do to do that? You know, the, the other set some say, at some point, say, no, go to a conference and get to know people and then introduce them to one another. I just, to me, it’s almost like, I don’t want to say forcing yourself to, to adopting the stage for behavior. But in a sense, yes, I just, well, what you’re doing and do it differently in a way.

Adam Avramescu  46:29

Another one that I’ve tried to do like and keep myself like along those lines is when I think about like my direct reports on my team. How much am I being the hub? And they are the spokes? For all conversations? Like are we conducting all of our business in one on ones? Or are we having more team meetings, group meetings, collaboration brainstorms? Am I encouraging them to talk to each other? About issues and problems? Or am I putting myself at the center of all of that? Because like, that’s sort of a, you know, if you’re being uncritical about your own behavior as a manager, then yeah, you’re going to do that because you’re like, Yeah, I’m here to solve everyone’s problems. But you’re not really right. Like, you’re not necessarily the best one to solve everyone’s problems or to like deal with everyone’s issues. So like, don’t let it all happen in one on ones.

Alessandra Marinetti  47:18

Yeah, no 100% Also look at whether you want to be CCD on every single communication or look at whether you are before your team members, go to see one of your peers or somebody else outside the organization, they have to go through you right now, if you are, as you were saying if you’re the hub of communication of assignments, etc, then you are not in Stage Four manager or stage four leader you’re not behaving that way. As I was saying earlier, relinquishing control for me is the linchpin right just get comfortable with you know, some if if one of your team members who is used to you assigning work or you know, letting not directing people to different members of the organization, intentionally send them back, you know, say to your team member, go figure it out, feel free to absolutely go and talk to that person, even if that person might be higher up in the in the hierarchy or not, in some organizations, and this may or may not be possible. So obviously, you have to gauge depending on the lead the organizational flatness or lack thereof,

Adam Avramescu  48:33

no, but like the broader like the broader concept, like if you use this as a goalpost about relinquishing control, I think is really important. Especially because, you know, like, whenever you talk to people about will make them unhappy in their jobs, or why they leave jobs, like, it seems to me at least, like one of the biggest reasons you always hear is micromanagement or just like, lack of empowerment or lack of trust in them as an individual as a performer. Right. If you don’t feel like you have agency in your job, you’re not going to want to keep that job.

Alessandra Marinetti  49:09

Yeah, and I think that you can see that in every single aspect. That oftentimes is, you see in exit interviews. Now, I didn’t have enough career development opportunities. Well, that often stems from the fact that if I miss stage three manager, I’m going to give you subsets of assignments rather than telling you this is your project, go figure it out, come to me for support, removing obstacles, you know, brainstorming, etc. But it’s your project and I trust that you will be driving it to completion. That creates a lot of professional development opportunities, especially to give people stretch assignments. Obviously, you want to gauge where they are right in their professional journey, but you can always give people the right level of assignment. Um, so that they can take it to the next level. Right?

Adam Avramescu  50:05

And this and this is why, whenever people ask me like what leadership books to read, I recommend reading this one after you read multipliers by Liz Wiseman, because she goes into a lot of those techniques and behaviors as a manager as well, like how you can actually already have set the stage for that. So by the time you’re thinking about, like, building a stage for culture, you kind of you’ve already worked on on those pieces. Yeah,

Alessandra Marinetti  50:26

yeah. It’s interesting, because I read multipliers, also, based on your recommendation. And I find it incredible. I think I will recommend reading tribal leadership first, just to get yourself in that mindset. Because then the multiplier in my mind is the stage four, stage five, leader, right? So once you know who you are as a leader, and once you’ve worked out the or at least who you aspire to be on a regular basis, then multiplayer gives me at least then the the tools and the thinking on how to behave and operate, I should say, within within that stage for

Adam Avramescu  51:10

Yeah, you know, and actually, it’s interesting. I did read tribal leadership before I read multipliers. So maybe maybe my practice was out of line with my, my recommendation. Like, the lightbulb moment I had when I read multipliers was that what she describes is the difference between a multiplier manager and a diminisher. Manager. Yes, is the same as being at stage four versus being in stage three. Right? It’s that that same like iwi? mentality

Alessandra Marinetti  51:40

100%. Yeah.

Adam Avramescu  51:41

So I think I think what we’re saying is read a lot of business books, and the ones that actually seem good and give you lightbulb moments, then really let them marinate and check in with yourself and see how you’re putting them into practice. And just read the summary.

Alessandra Marinetti  51:58

Or listen to them. You know, for me, listening, listening to business book is a much more powerful experience and reading it I discovered during these two years of the pandemic, I took lots of walks, and I was listening to audiobooks. And they felt more personal somehow, so I enjoyed them more.

Adam Avramescu  52:19

I like to have business advice whispered into my ear, a person that makes me an auditory learner. I don’t know. Oh, let’s not go there. Okay, we’re not. Stay tuned for part two, where we debunk learning styles. Oh my gosh, Alessandra. It has been so great talking with you about this. And I hope for our listeners, this was you know, a valuable experiment. I’d like to do more episodes where we talk about leadership more more broadly, and don’t necessarily talk about you know, just like tactical customer education, best practices, but Alessandra any any thoughts before we sign off or any other light bulb moments want to share?

Alessandra Marinetti  52:59

Any other light bulb moments? I think that for me, the bottom line of leadership is being authentic. And Being authentic means looking inwardly being authentic with yourself first and foremost. And I think the tribal leadership book really gives you gives one, the opportunity to do that. And you cannot be authentic with your teams and others unless you’re authentic with yourself. So that’s one of my biggest epiphanies long before tribal leadership for sure.

Adam Avramescu  53:33

I completely agree authenticity is is is key. I wrote my thesis on authenticity. Nice. Thesis, please don’t I’m sure it’s terrible. I have not read it. Well, thank you, Alessandra, for joining us today. It was so great. Getting to have one of our signature amazing chats but recorded on the air.

Alessandra Marinetti  53:59

It’s always a wonderful to, to have to talk with you and to really exchange thoughts and ideas and looking forward from two more.

Adam Avramescu  54:10

Yeah, absolutely. And I think we both owe a debt of gratitude, gratitude to Logan King and Fisher right. Yeah, fantastic book. They’re not paying us. We just want you to go and read it. And to our listeners if this helped you. Please visit our website customer dot education where you can find notes and articles. In fact, I just published an article on there recently about becoming a customer education leader. Please visit the places where you rate podcasts and give us a five star if you feel so inclined. We haven’t seen reviews in a little bit. So we’d love to have more great reviews from you. And if you have feedback for us please give it a give that to us as well. And on Twitter I’m I’m at every miscue Are you on Twitter? Yes you are. I see you like things in Italian. Oh, all the time.

Alessandra Marinetti  55:00

Yeah, it’s more of a in Italian, Twitter to be honest. So LinkedIn is the best way to find me actually.

Adam Avramescu  55:09

All right, find us both on LinkedIn. Were there anyway, I still don’t know why we always talk about Twitter. I think just because it’s in the script, which I’m not reading today. So, to our listeners, thank you go out there and educate, experiment and find your people. Thanks for listening

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