Ops Cast

What is a Marketing Chief of Staff with Chloe Washington, Ragen Dodson and Jim Williams

February 20, 2023 MarketingOps Team Season 1 Episode 86
What is a Marketing Chief of Staff with Chloe Washington, Ragen Dodson and Jim Williams
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Ops Cast
What is a Marketing Chief of Staff with Chloe Washington, Ragen Dodson and Jim Williams
Feb 20, 2023 Season 1 Episode 86
MarketingOps Team

In this episode, we talk about  Marketing Chief of Staff roles with Chloe Washington, Ragen Dodson, and Jim Williams. Chloe Washington is currently Chief of Staff to the CMO at Hubspot. Prior to joining Hubspot, Chloe has held several project management and operations (both Sales and Marketing) roles, and some leadership roles. She is also PMP certified. Ragen Dodson is currently Director of Marketing Operations and Analytics at Axonius. Prior to joining Axonius, Ragen has held several Marketing Ops roles, Marketing and Finance roles, and she had her own agency. Jim Williams is currently the CMO of Uptempo.io. Jim has held previous CMO and marketing leadership role - including Eloqua - as well as roles in public relations.

Tune in to hear:
- What the definition of what a marketing Chief of Staff is.
- How is a marketing Chief of Staff role different from “traditional” Marketing Ops, and what our guests see as the major differences in scope and skills.
-  How this kind of role fits into a career path for marketing ops.
- What skills and experience are most important for a CoS and why? 

Episode Brought to You By MO Pros 
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk about  Marketing Chief of Staff roles with Chloe Washington, Ragen Dodson, and Jim Williams. Chloe Washington is currently Chief of Staff to the CMO at Hubspot. Prior to joining Hubspot, Chloe has held several project management and operations (both Sales and Marketing) roles, and some leadership roles. She is also PMP certified. Ragen Dodson is currently Director of Marketing Operations and Analytics at Axonius. Prior to joining Axonius, Ragen has held several Marketing Ops roles, Marketing and Finance roles, and she had her own agency. Jim Williams is currently the CMO of Uptempo.io. Jim has held previous CMO and marketing leadership role - including Eloqua - as well as roles in public relations.

Tune in to hear:
- What the definition of what a marketing Chief of Staff is.
- How is a marketing Chief of Staff role different from “traditional” Marketing Ops, and what our guests see as the major differences in scope and skills.
-  How this kind of role fits into a career path for marketing ops.
- What skills and experience are most important for a CoS and why? 

Episode Brought to You By MO Pros 
The #1 Community for Marketing Operations Professionals

MOps-Apalooza is back by popular demand in Anaheim, California! Register for the magical community-led conference for Marketing and Revenue Operations pros.

Join Us at MOps-Apalooza, Nov 4-6 2024!
Join us LIVE in November 2024 along with 400+ Marketing and Revenue Ops pros. Learn more here.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Michael Hartmann:

Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of OpsCast, brought to you by MarketingOps.com, powered by the MO Pros. I'm your host, Michael Hartmann. Joined today by, Only one co-host again, Mike Rizzo. So Mike, we are definitely gonna need to get Naomi back on one of these days. She'll be back soon, I'm sure of it, but I'm glad to be here. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm excited for this one, so I want just dive right into it. Um, gonna get into a topic that, um, I'm interested in, I think hopefully our, our, you listeners are as well, but it's about marketing chief of staff roles, so joining us to talk about this today. Our several guests we've got, first we've got Chloe Washington, who's currently the chief of staff to the CMO at HubSpot. And prior to joining HubSpot, she held several project management operations, both sales and marketing ops roles and some leadership roles. Uh, she's also a PMP certified. We also have Ragen Dodson, currently director of Marketing Operations and Analytics at Axonius. Prior to joining Axonius, Reagan had, se has several, um, has had several marketing ops roles, marketing and finance roles in, she's had her own agency. And last but not least is Jim Williams, who's currently the CMO of Uptempo.io. Uh, Jim has held previous CMO and marketing leadership roles, including at Eloqua as well as roles in public relations. So thank you all for joining us today. Hi. Happy to be here. Thank you.

Jim Williams:

So happy to be. Yep. Delighted.

Michael Hartmann:

So I think it's gonna be funny, Jim, we're gonna have to talk sometime. Like I think when you were at Eloqua, it was like right around the time prior to the Oracle acquisition when I was still, I was an early, I was a customer back then, right before that. So offline. We can talk about that. I hope that's a good thing. No, no. I, I like, uh, I still have, uh, for, for our long time listeners, we did a, we did an episode about a year ago. Mike and I got on and just riffed on how bad sales people were at selling to Marketing Ops folks, but I have a really good experience for the person who, who I worked with at Eloqua back in those days, long time ago.

Jim Williams:

Yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

All right. So I, like I said, I'm, I'm very interested in, in this and why, um, and kind of what I, why I think I'm interested. I've been seeing, at least anecdotally on my side, you know, more of the emergence of. Marketing chief of staff type roles. Um, and I believe, I like, one of the challenges we always talk about here is like, what are the, what are the career paths that makes sense for marketing ops professionals? Um, cuz even up until recently, there just weren't even many roles beyond director or senior director levels. So very few VP level even. So why don't we, like, maybe we can start, and Chloe, since you're sitting in that role today, why don't we start with you like, what is, like, how would you define marketing chief of staff role? Like, what does it entail? What does it not include?

Chloe Washington:

Happy to. Yeah. This is the first question I get. Like, you're chief of staff. What, what does that even mean? Uh, chief of staff, you're a strategic ops and planning leader. you are an operational thought leader. You are a person that even sometimes when you don't, you know, you're feeling a little insecure about decisions. You're making decisions on the fly. You are the right hand man or woman to the CMO. Uh, the role gets confused a lot with executive assistant. It is not, those are two very important roles, but very separate roles. I work very closely with the CMOs executive assistant. We are. Uh, I like to say a dream team. We work very well together, but our roles are very, very different. It's not a siloed role at all. You're talking to everyone within the company. You have to get, that's the only way that you're going to be successful in this role. It is definitely someone that is able to manage up well and gets to talk to a lot of people at all levels and try and remember a million things at.

Michael Hartmann:

Just curious. So, um, we're, I think we're gonna get into some more of the specifics of the role, but like, Jim, I'm assuming, just given where kinda what your, your, your experience as a CMO and, and, um, kind of the types of customers you're selling to, right? That you probably run into these more often than, than maybe some of the rest of us. Are you seeing any trends in this? Am I off from that standpoint?

Jim Williams:

No, we're seeing a big trend. It was actually one of the first things that I asked about when I came into the role at uptempo. We sell marketing operations software, and I kept seeing this role of marketing chief of staff or chief of staff to the CMO popping up in, in conversations, sales, conversations, opportunities, et cetera. It honestly was not a title that I had seen a lot of over my career. I think it's this, uh, rising role. In fact, we. Last fall, November 30th, we, we did a, a webinar where we just got, uh, a handful of marketing chief of staff together and had a conversation very similar to the one we're having today. And, uh, people came out of the woodwork. We had like, you know, a, a lot more registrations than I ever would've imagined, um, because people are really curious about the role. And, and I think, you know, this seems maybe somewhat intuitive. The role of marketing has changed so much in the last 20 years, and what a CMO needs to manage and the skillsets and the people and the tech and the insights and the data that, um, this role has become now a critical factor in making sure that the, you know, the plans that are created and rolled out to the organization, which much a plum is actually being followed and executed and carried. and the resources necessary to carry it out are aligned properly. It's just, it's too much for one person to do in, in the role of Cmmo and all of the CM O'S direct reports are all managing their own function. So you have this kind of central glue in the chief of staff role.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, I, so what are the ways I think about it, and maybe this, uh, I'll throw this, this out there, but I think of it as one of the functions seems to me to be, um, if there's a. A project or an initiative that is needed from the CMO level that doesn't have a natural fit to what, what like a traditional marketing leadership role. Um, they're like, this would be the perfect kind of thing that a, a chief of staff would take on. Right. So to your, to your point, Chloe, right, it's not just like administrative, like, it would be like, you'd be responsible for, like, are you responsible for like, I'll call it special projects or things like that, that don't, wouldn't otherwise fit into somebody else's?

Chloe Washington:

definitely strategic projects are a big part of my day-to-day, and a lot of it isn't just the CMO telling you what needs to be done. It's you hearing from the rest of the marketing work and telling the cmo, Hey, I'm doing this, this needs to be taken

Michael Hartmann:

care of. Ah, okay. Goes a little bit both ways. Mm-hmm. makes sense. That makes sense. All right. So, um, yeah. One of the things I think, uh, as we talked about this, right, and probably our listeners are going through is like, okay, I'm in marketing ops, or I'm in revenue ops. I've got a little better idea now of what a chief of staff role might include, but like what are the, like what do you think of as the differences in scope and responsibility for, say, I almost hate to say traditional marketing operations, but marketing operations and a chief of staff role. Reagan, maybe you, you can share your thoughts on.

Regan Dodson:

Yeah, for sure. I think it, it stems from how big your company is, right? Because a lot of times, like with axons, we are, you know, emerging and we really don't have, I mean, we have 50 marketers, um, but we're not at a place right now to have a chief of staff role. So, um, with that being said, there's, there's. I like what you said, um, Jim, about the glue component because that's exactly what our CMO told me today as I was prepping for this podcast was. That the chief of staff role would kind of be like glue. So what we have right now currently at Axons is we have a coordinator that rolls up to our chief marketing officer, and then we have me, um, the director of marketing operations and analytics. And so those two pieces are like glue for him, whereas my role is more so like very strategic, like Chloe was saying. Um, you know, we have to be operational thought leaders. We have to kind. Gather all the thoughts, um, from, you know, the rest of the marketing team and kind of translate that into CMO language, right, or vice versa to the rest of the team. There's a lot of times where, you know, this role, I would say it is. Kind of like a chief of staff role, you know, in our company size. But this role, you know, has to touch every facet of marketing. And so we have to have understanding of every single thing that goes on. And a lot of times you find that the marketers feel a little bit more comfortable coming to the chief of staff or director of marketing operations. Um, instead of just going right to the CMO. I don't know, Chloe, if you, if you kind of feel that, or, uh, a hundred percent. Yep. Yeah, for sure. And so it, it seems like we take on a lot of the burden, um, before it gets to the cmo. And, and my goal is to try to accomplish all of the, the, the task and things at hand and deal with, um, you know, like our external stakeholders, like our business operations team and our finance team and all that stuff. So it's handled before it gets to the cmo and that I can kind of create a process. Um, but yeah. That's kind of where we're at. But I, I think for an organization like HubSpot or a Fortune 500, I think you have to have a chief of staff role, but it's definitely going to encompass a lot of like the coordination and the strategy operations of such.

Mike Rizzo:

It makes a ton of sense to me. I, I love hearing the three sort of different, uh, the same similarities across all three of you, but like, just where, where you're currently focused, like where your attention is, uh, and the perspective. Uh, it's funny, like it echoes, I don't know if funny is the right word for it, but for me it echoes community. right? Yeah. Like Chloe and Reagan and Jim, like everything you're saying is like, there's glue, there's trust, there's transparency, there's building this rapport across like all these different individuals. And so like this chief of staff function is like, Hey, I have to take these inputs from the executives, and I also have to be seen as this trusted advisor for the rest of the organization to try to figure out like where we could go next, right? Or what's happening. And by taking both of those inputs to try to translate that to something that, uh, a chief marketing officer or a CEO for that matter might want to interpret or hear, uh, is a, is a very special skillset that has. sort of be developed over time. Mm-hmm. and HHartmann and I, we were very fortunate at, uh, summer camp last summer to have a CMO in the room. And everybody went through this exercise of like trying to take geek speak, um, and, and, and put it in front of a CMO and say, do you understand what I'm trying to say to you? And

Michael Hartmann:

um, it was a very humbling experience.

Mike Rizzo:

It was this wonderful, wonderful experience. Um, no, it was

Michael Hartmann:

fantastic.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. And, and so I, I love that it's like it so much of what you were saying, the three of you, um, really makes like a ton of sense. And, and the first time, like I had never even heard of this idea of like becoming a chief of staff from a marketing ops perspective, uh, until like, really it was like the last nine months or so when HHartmann and I started talking about it a little bit, and I think he brought it up. Um, but gosh, it makes a lot of sense, right? When like Reagan, as you're saying, you have visibility across the entire sort of infrastructure of what's going on, all the pipes, so to speak. Yep. and, and that like, because of that visibility, we always say, and I find myself often saying to folks that I'm mentoring in the community, you've got a really unique opportunity to start poking holes in things or start asking questions and say, Hey, I saw this anomaly. Do you think we could do this, this, or that? Um, and gosh, that really makes you the strategic leader, but it's not often that the executive is coming down to the marketing ops professional and. Hey, we have a go-to-market initiative coming, right? Um, I, I don't even for you, Reagan, I'm not sure how much it's happening, but Jim, maybe you can jump in here too. Like, Hey, we're gonna try to enter a totally new market. How do we do that? Like mm-hmm. I feel like you're responsible, Jim for Yeah. Coming up with the how to do that before you ever go to the marketing op person. So I definitely wanna hear from both of you on it.

Jim Williams:

Uh, yeah. So, I mean, I, I'll jump in, but I think that part of. this fundamental conversation is about this, this, this gap, I'm gonna call it the gap in marketing operations that we see all the time and the gap in marketing operations is, operational marketing, uh, that's the best way to put it. Right. for some reason, there's marketing operations, and if you think about the term operations, like you're talking about everything, the people, time, resources, dollars, all the stuff that makes marketing happen. Mm-hmm. Yep. All too often marketing are, uh, uh, operations focus are focused. on MarTech sometimes. Mm-hmm. like within MarTech, 90% of that is marketing automation within MarTech. Right? In the meantime, you have a CMO and the CMO gets handed a pile of dollars from investors and they say, you need to enter this market, generate this pipeline, uh, you know, have this many wins, hit this revenue target, et cetera. All that's gonna be done by having a strategic. with operating objectives, with dollars associated with teams that don't do work streams in order to execute. Mm-hmm. that continuum largely is ignored by marketing operations until you get to just the execute and measure type thing. And so I think sometimes CMOs are struggling. to get answers about the beginning part of that you know, the, the beginning part of that process. Okay. We had a plan. We have these objectives, we have these KPIs. How are we doing against those? Are we funding the right initiatives or not? Do we need to shift resources one way or another? That's not really the domain of many marketing operations folks, and so therefore there's this big gap, and that gap I think, is being filled by this very strategic chief of staff role. Mm.

Mike Rizzo:

And I think, you know, to Reagan's point, I think there's, uh, a lot of opportunity for a marketing operations professional to grow into that role. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, it certainly shouldn't happen overnight, but Reagan, uh, you know, how's it going for you all as it relates to sort of, I think the last time you and I talked, there were plenty of new growing initiatives, uh, happening at your organization and you were really excited about. Um, but I would love to hear sort of like this idea of like, how, how are you all tackling that gap or trying to jump it?

Regan Dodson:

at first when the last time I talked to you, it was crazy. Um, revamped our whole attribution model and our system and brought on Acadia at the same time. During that, Jim, I know you like that Um, and so that was a lot of change management. Um, you know, and rolling that out to the rest of the marketing team. Um, you know, just like you said, Jim, like we were viewed before I, before I got to Axons and took this position, we were viewed as marketing. Just marketing apps just handles the tech. and I guess I've just never, my role has always been no marketing ops. You're a marketing ops leader and you need to handle everything. And so when I got in, I was like, I can see this gap and I can see this gap. And I'm like, I have to fix all of this. Or we're, we're, I could just see disaster. And so that's what I've been doing and I think it's been well received. I think, um, you know, uh, we're growing so fast. Um, we haven't had time to just sit down and do some foundational work, and I think I'm, I'm, I'm doing that and our, my team is doing that. And at first it was kind of like, why is marketing ops and now in charge of our, our budget? Why is marketing ops like now in charge of, you know, our tech stack and procurement and, um, our data, our, we, we own our marketing data, um, and analytics. And so I think that was an eye-opener, but now I think our marketers are like, You're making my job so much more easier because now I can just focus on Yes. Creative marketing while marketing ops is running behind the scenes. So that's kind of where we're at now.

Mike Rizzo:

I love that. I, I just want to throw in one last little thing, and I think HHartmann wants to pull me back off of this for a

Michael Hartmann:

minute. No, no, no. I like, I, there's a th there's a thread there that I was pick, I was like, I wanted to follow up on too, so Carry on. I'm just, I'm just gonna share

Mike Rizzo:

that, uh, I had just gotten off a, a conversation with, Marketing ops professional who works at, uh, one of the larger chat organizations out there. Uh, I'll spare the name of all of them, but, um, the thing that this individual shared with me is I think what makes somebody excellent at their role is being able to take the request, uh, for whether it's a CMO or a campaign ops person, somebody on the marketing team or sales for that matter, and saying, great, I love that you want to do that, but here's how we up-level. Uh, and here's, and here's how it makes, here's how we make it better, right? Um, and I think that, again, that takes time to learn all the intricacies of the tech stack that you have, uh, but is also just another prime example of when somebody's really passionate about that function, the marketing ops function, how it lends itself very quickly to this sort of enablement, uh, strategic leader opportunity, uh, so that you can take somebody's request and say, yes, we can do that. But here, where we could go next with it. You know? Did you think about this opportunity? So anyway, I thought that was really. No, that's

Chloe Washington:

great. You're enabling like, I feel like I enable marketers to market. It's not just about the external tech stack. What's the internal tech stack like to Jim's point? Mm-hmm. all the planning, all the things that we're doing. They can't use spreadsheets and pieces of paper and post-it notes, like how do we make this seamless and allow them to get back to their day jobs, if you will. Like all of that planning is important, but then the execution is more important and how can you enable them to execute more flawless.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, like I'm a big fan of like taking that, I mean the one thing that might, you know, like talked about is like results and, you know, getting, but I think there's something about simplification too. So I think there's a lot of marketing teams that I've worked with, um, even if we thought we had a decent process, that tends to be over complicated or the tech tech stack is complicated. So I think part of that advising and providing guidance is also about how do we take this idea and not only make it work and work effectively. Do it in a way that is, especially if it's something new, I'm like, try something new. Do it as in a simplest way you can, so that you can learn from it quickly. I think there's a real value in being able to move quickly that is undervalued in a lot of places. Um, okay. So I want, going back to this thread, I, I, I feel like my question about like is, does, would this kind of role, chief of staff role make sense for a marketing ops person to move into in the right situation, it sounds like Yes. The case. I didn't hear anything that sort of countered that, but happy to hear that feedback. But it feels like, especially based on Jim, what you said, like it feel like there's some skill gaps maybe that you see that most marketing ops folks would tend to have or that they aren't, um, either they have the gaps or they're not ex, they're not actually showing that, that they have the skills that are needed to kind of be in that role. Like I picked up. Finance, which Mike knows, like I could get on a soapbox about the importance of the fight. yeah. Understanding finance for a while, but, but I think like communicating with people well, like finding the, like what do you see as like from your experience with marketing ops people who are historically mostly about MarTech and campaign ops? I would argue those are the two main things that most teams do like to, what are the skills that they, you think? Benefit from learning? No, only in that role, but also if they aspire to something like a chief of staff role. Yeah,

Jim Williams:

it's, it's, it's a great question. I actually, I, I have a, I have a comment on this, but I'm gonna defer to Chloe because we, we've had so many conversations over the last few weeks that are exactly on this, and she, she's got this nailed, she's got this answer nailed much better than I do. Perfect. So I'll let it defer. But just because you brought up finance, cuz I feel like it's something we've kind of talked about here, but have skirted. I, I think the relationship between, it's not just within marketing and points of friction that a chief of staff has to kind of manage and, and plan around. It's definitely points of friction outside of marketing and one of the prime ones is with finance. Mm-hmm. you know, just like. You know, we were ripping on Eloco or whatever, 15 years ago, right? The point of friction then was between marketing and sales, and that's why we built this text act as you have a contract between these two functions that governs the relationship. No such system exists really between marketing and finance, and because dollars are the lifeblood of marketing that needs to be figured out. It. again, just so you go back and you compared that relationship with sales, right? Where its like, Hey, here's a bunch of leads. We're gonna send you spreadsheets full of leads. Remember that? Like how great that life before MarTech. Oh yeah. That is exactly the state of art today between financial teams and marketing teams. It is. Dozens, sometimes hundreds of spreadsheets going back and forth. Mm-hmm. as long reconciliation process. It's always delayed. Nobody even knows how much money's in the budget. And every single marketer is having a conversation right now with the cfo F about the budget, about getting everything out of the budget. So I think that friction point between marketing finance is, uh, is a big driver of this role for sure. that I'll, I'll Chloe maybe talk a little bit about the skillsets required

Chloe Washington:

for the role. Yeah, no, you're spot on. The trust and you know, I think that sometimes silence is mistaken for they're not doing something or they're hiding something from one side or the other. Having that person, like I have a finance contact, we talk every single day, and to Reagan's point, Acadia has helped. that immensely like the spreadsheet. Life is real and you need to be able to, when I think about a chief of staff versus someone that's a marketing ops person, a lot of it's personality. Being able to push back. Being able to push back and talk to the C F O, the CMO, being able to give them. Hey, here's what's really going on. And you know, when we were talking earlier about the skillset, I think group therapist is one like a big part of being chief of staff love. Like you gotta take it and hear everybody's everything, all the complaining, and then you have to also know what does the CMO need to know out of that? What is relevant versus you just listening and taking it in? What is actually a problem that needs to be solved, whether it be financial or something within the marketing team. I mean, a big thing that I heard my first year at hubs, I can't do this in a spreadsheet. It's gonna take me 10 hours to give, get you that one answer. I can't do this. I don't have time to do this. And to their point, they, they don't have time to do this. We're trying to execute. And that's one

Michael Hartmann:

and that's one time, right? They just, you do that, it's expected to be done on a regular

Chloe Washington:

basis. Exactly. Absolutely. But also a chief of staff is sometimes like, no, you do have to do it. You do have to stop what you're doing and do this thing related to finance or not to someone. you know, you kind of have to have backbone to be able to do this. Because I think a lot of times when you're, yeah, when you're, especially when you're implementing something or you're taking something away. Mm-hmm. from the team as they view it. So, you know, the first six months, who is this person? What do they wanna do? Why are they taking this from me? Me? And then thank God, like, I don't know how I could do this without you. Thankful for this tool, thankful for this thing. So you have to be able to like, alright, they'll like me later. They don't have to like me now if I'm being efficient and really helping them. you can't take it. Yes.

Regan Dodson:

Oh,

Mike Rizzo:

so

Michael Hartmann:

true. Yeah.

Regan Dodson:

Uhhuh But you really have to like this role, Chloe, you really encompassed all of the, the traits like you have to be, you have to have a strong backbone for sure in this role.

Michael Hartmann:

So, uh, so like something to what you, when you just said that, um, it feels like an important skill, which I think is also important for salespeople. It's most people who have never done sales don't think about, but you have to be really good at asking good questions. Is that like, do you think you have to be a good. Because a lot of conflict I see in organizations has to do with people talking past each other very often in agreement. I like to call it violent agreement. Like they're just Like they're in a very loud conversation, but they're actually agreeing. But just using different words.

Chloe Washington:

Yeah. You have to get to first principles, you have to clear the fog completely and get to the why from all sides. Interesting.

Regan Dodson:

That's the key word. The. Mm-hmm.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. Why do you want to send that email? Yeah. Right?

Michael Hartmann:

Why? Yeah. I think that's it. What was it? Is it, there's some, uh, I don't know if it's, I don't know if I called out. I've heard, but somebody talked, I've worked with, talked about, uh, there's like this approach to getting to the bottom something. It's like the five why's. Have you heard of this? Mm-hmm. Yeah, you've, okay, so if you can ask why like five

Mike Rizzo:

times and eventually get to the, it's like, you know, like when you were a kid and you just kept saying it's a toddler approach.

Regan Dodson:

Yeah. Toddler

Jim Williams:

approach. Well, why, well, tell me why. I love about, I love how the toddler approaches describes the standard sales discovery method.

Michael Hartmann:

Uh, no. I, so I like total aside, but I remember like when I first had kids, I. there's a whole lot I can apply to like raising kids to Yeah. Dealing with people in a professional environment, cuz a lot of people end up being like a lot oft kids and Yeah. So, yeah. So,

Mike Rizzo:

and, and it's just managing your own responses to, you know, to not just your children, but to your stakeholders, to your colleagues. Right. Um, I, I distinctly remember earlier in my career, like being hyper offended when somebody would. like talk badly about the tech stack. It's like, yeah. As if I somehow owned the tool, like it was mine, you know? Yeah. like

Michael Hartmann:

as if I was the creator

Mike Rizzo:

of HubSpot or whatever tool I was using. Right. Totally. And then, you know, like as you evolve in the role, you're like, oh wait, like. I, that's not, I don't own that. Like I own the responsibility of making it do what it's supposed to do, but like, I'm not here to defend like the tech stack. And so yeah, that's a skill that you have to learn for sure. Yeah. Maybe it was just me though.

Chloe Washington:

No, totally. I, I'm aligned with you Okay. Can't take it personally like Reagan was saying. No,

Regan Dodson:

you can't. And another thing is too, is like, I think you know, the CMO. Has the responsibility of making sure that he or she communicates the role of whether it's the director of marketing ops or the chief of staff, or, or, or however that that is. I feel like that causes a lot of tension with the rest of the marketing team cuz they have no idea what marketing ops really is. I mean, we know, but like, like you said, everyone just defaults too. They just run the tech stack. So I think it's the C o's responsibility to make sure they relay that message and the why behind it.

Michael Hartmann:

Makes sense. Yeah,

Jim Williams:

I, I, I would agree with that. I think that, I think marketing ops is particularly challenged because of the scope and complexity of the tech stack that marketing runs compared to everywhere else. Mm-hmm. right? I, I don't think, like some it guy in my org gets upset if you complain about the e r P system or something, you know what I mean? Like Right. But it's cause it's doing a singular thing. But, um, but that, that is, it's a significant challenge and. It's, you know, if, if you're in a board meeting, no one cares. Yeah. About how many apps you have, how vertically integrated there is, the data flows from one to no. Nobody cares about they even things like, you know, oh, we're working on this nurturing program. We come on do scoring program, and oh, we started using the intent-based data and that triggers this camp. Like, why? It's the same as you said, five wise. Why? Why are you doing that? Why are you doing that? What they wanna get back to is, You have, we have these growth targets and we funded you at X amount, and tell me what is the return you're getting on that funding Now, break it down, right against each of these programs. What return are you getting in those programs, in these campaigns that support the programs? What return, what channel? Like we're trying to get to that and when I, I keep harping on finance, but when they're, all of the systems to execute that program are completely disconnected from a budget. There is no return on investment. There's no why.

Regan Dodson:

Well, look, look at you advertising Acaia. Yeah,

Jim Williams:

It's a challenge. Right? So that's, that's what investment care about. They're just, they're money people.

Michael Hartmann:

Well, so you're getting at something though lot though. So this, there's a little bit of, Mike talked about, uh, when we were at summer camping, how having that CMO sort of really listened to some analysis or pitch like, and getting this. Uh, getting her perspective on how she perceived it and what it really like was really, really interesting. It was hard, but I think, um, kind of one of the things you're getting at Jim, that I think is maybe another challenge for people who would wanna move into this role is that you're expected to be the representative of the cmo right? In, in meetings where the CMO can't be there. So, uh, I'm curious. A, is that correct? I'm, I think my assumption's right, but if it's not, somebody can jump in and clarify it. But, um, how, like, how, how do you go about like, doing that? Like what's the process where you get that comfortable? Cause I assume there's, there's like this trust between those two, like the CMO and the chief of staff, or if it's marketing and then second maybe, um, What do you think is important in terms of building that trust so that you can be that viewed as that representative? Uh, Reagan, maybe you start, I don't know, whoever wants to take it. Hmm.

Regan Dodson:

I, I'm, I'm passing it to you. Ok, That's fair. That's fair. I think

Chloe Washington:

it's a hundred percent. You know, when we were talking earlier about building those relationships, the, the first and foremost relationship you have to build is with the CMO. Like, I can confidently say that Kip Trust. We have conversations about it. Especially when I started, you know, that's something I'm like, oh, I'm new here. It's, I work fully, remotely. I don't wanna mess anything up. Right? I might know what I'm doing with ops, but I don't know, at that time, I didn't know HubSpot and mm-hmm. That was a conversation that you have to have upfront. How much do you trust me in these 90 days? How, what's put a dollar amount on it? What decisions can I make? Right now that I'm not gonna lose my job for. And then you take it from there, right? Like you really, it starts to become organic. Like you have to have those conversations, even going back to the trust, like I hear it from all sides. I tell my boss, Hey, okay, here are the 10 things I'm hearing from marketing. I can do five. What are the five? Are we aligned so that when I'm in conversations that you're not or you're in conversations that I'm not, that we're aligned as a unit. Communication is so key in this role. It is not one of those. You open your laptop and you sit there quietly all day if that's what you're looking for. Chief of staff is not for you. Yeah, it sounds like,

Jim Williams:

sorry, what job is that? Yeah, Right, right.

Michael Hartmann:

Right. But it sounds like what you do is like, you have to have really sort of, I was gonna say blunt, but that's not like very explicit conversations about like, what, like, here's what I think I can go to, how I, how you feel. Am I right? Right. And then, right. And then recognizing when you go. Like if you're in a situation where you're being asked a question and you know it's gonna be seen as something that is representation of the cmo. Like knowing, like when you can say like when you could commit to something, when you can't.

Chloe Washington:

Yeah. And it becomes Ari like now I, I have no, I don't have that imposter syndrome. Like after a while you just, right. If you have a really good CMO, you're, you have that rhythm and you just know. And if you do make a decision that you haven't talked about and it gets back to them, they're like, no, I support. Like even if they're like in private, why'd you do that? Why do you know? Going back to the Y? As long as you have a good reason, you know they're gonna have. Yeah.

Regan Dodson:

I struggle with that a lot too. Imposter syndrome. Um, but I guess my approach is a little different. than Chloe's, just because sometimes I do things and then I explain the why later. But because we're so fast paced here that sometimes I don't have the ability to be like, look like, but he tells me what his vision is, then I just execute it and then we'll talk about it. And if they're, if there's things that go on along that way, mistakes or whatever, we'll chat through it. But most of the time we're in sync and I think we're, we're getting to the point. I think I know, I know what to do. I feel confident in that, very confident in that. Um, and so I

Michael Hartmann:

just run with it. Well, I like Chloe's Chloe's kind of point. It was subtle, but I picked up is, you know, what's the amount, what's the dollar amount of a mistake that I can make without like being really in trouble? Right. And I think, yeah, I mean like, I love that, but that's reality, right? So I, I mean, I don't think that I've ever had it. Conversation like that with my boss, and I'm not in the chief ceal, but we've taken time where I've, you know, I feel confident now that I can go, like I can go engage with a vendor up to a certain amount and I'm gonna be okay. Right? Even if it ends up not going well. But then there are others where maybe there's, even if the dollar amount was low, right? There's a lot of potential impact to the other parts of the team or the business. um, from a change management, they brought up change management. Reagan like so mm-hmm. Um, I think that's really like if you're, if for our listeners then who are in, you know, thinking like, how can I elevate myself to be more, seems more strategic with the rest of the marketing team? I think having those very direct conversations is one way to do it. If you've got a, if you've got a leader who you work with that is open to that, um, and my experience has been if you approach'em, they usually are op, like they. want that from mm-hmm. people who report to them. Yeah.

Mike Rizzo:

Mm-hmm. I agree. Yep. I had, so

Jim Williams:

I would also say, um, go ahead. Sorry. Go for it. Oh. Uh, yeah, so I would just say like, because I'm, I'm just going back and I kind of reviewed some of the notes from that, that, um, you know, that panel discussion we had last Paul, and this this point came up over and over again, which is, uh, trust and context, right. And the two are totally. you have to have this absolute trust between the chiefest staff. Mm-hmm. and the cmo. And even though CMO may trust their head of demand and field marketing, whatever, they trust them to do that role, which is very different from trusting someone to help manage all roles and particularly the conflicts between roles and conflicts outside of the function of marketing. So that trust is important in context. It's just, it's a little bit of like being there from the beginning is kind of important. Right. Under. what were, what were we trying to achieve as an organization? What is marketing's role in trying to achieve that? What is important to the CMO and the C E O? You know, like where does the CMO have concerns about the strategy and how is it playing? Where do they have concerns about the people behind the strategy? All those things. You kind of have to have that context. You gotta have the trust in order to get that context. But then once you have that context, You're in a much, much, much better position to act and speak on behalf of the office of the cmo. Mm-hmm. that that came up over and over again in comments. Yeah.

Mike Rizzo:

Makes what?

Regan Dodson:

what do you say to the, the marketers that will go, even though you've discussed this with either your chief of staff or someone like, kind of in my role, or vice versa? Maybe Chloe, this is a question for you where you guys, you're rolling out a process for the CMO and then the marketers are like, no, and they, I'm, I'm gonna go tell the cmo, or I'm gonna ask him, or you know, like kind of going behind you and just kind of like, not understanding, you know, why you're the one that's rolling out this process. Like what do you do in that

Chloe Washington:

position? I've let them go. Ask him. I mean, I, I'm not going to get go, go, go ask dad. Like, you know, like, he's probably gonna have the same answer for you, you know? But you also want to, going back to that communication, have those one-on-ones with them and understand it. Because that's not to say people don't have a good point. Maybe there's something that you did miss. but they need to really understand, or at least, you know, a lot of times I've, I've rolled out a couple of different tools and processes and of course they're pushback. I wanna know the why. I wanna know the why. Making sure you have that, like that PowerPoint slide or that Google slide, like here you go. Here's my why. Like everything I roll out, or every process I roll out, I five bullet points. This is what this is, this is what it's not. Tell me what the gaps are. I also preview before things. I don't wait until things are a hundred percent polished to tell, especially our director plus population or our manager. So they can start to ask the questions. They can, a lot of times they get excited about it. The directors wanna tell the managers, and the managers talking to the ic. So they kind of, it's like a ripple effect. Mm-hmm. And I think that that helps too. And I also, I don't, I do not want to be a gatekeeper. I don't gatekeeper information either way. Like, if Kip said, no, tell me everything. Okay, well, here's what's going on. You know, in the same way otherwise. And I think it, it helps me to gain trust here. Like, I don't mind if someone doesn't like my answer. feels the need that they wanna talk to Kip or to talk to both of us. I love that.

Mike Rizzo:

I, I, I just wanted to say that I think there's something super refreshing about this idea that, you know, I, I know we've said trust and transparency and all these things a bunch of times, but like, it's very rare that you have the opportunity as an individual contributor, whether you're, you know, uh, entry level up to director, et cetera. um, it's very rare that you can go to somebody who can hear you, uh, try to translate what it is that you're, what you're trying to accomplish to mm-hmm. to maybe an executive leader. Um, and then, and then Chloe, like, I imagine there's gonna be times in your role where, um, the, you know, KIPP in, in, in his case and, you know, maybe for others in chief of staff roles, y you're like, well, the last time we talked about this, you said this was the thing. You said, this is what mattered. this is what I've been communicating. And so like, there's actually that level of like almost a requirement to me. It sounds like, you know, cuz I, I interact directly with startup CEOs all the time where it's like they want you to. Hold on a second. you know, like

Michael Hartmann:

you're, it feels like call bullshit on stuff a little bit. Yeah. Like, it feels like you're

Mike Rizzo:

going a different direction. The last time we talked, this is what we were saying was, was the thing. And you know, granted it's not fully rolled out, but like, where, where are we? Where are we crossing paths here? And I feel like that is so refreshing for both, on both sides, for the leader to have mm-hmm. Yep. Then, you know, and, and, and the individual contributors too. Otherwise, it's, I feel like it's like a, a combative thing. yeah. It's not like a conversation you're trying to work out. I don't know. So

Regan Dodson:

does that

Chloe Washington:

happen with you? Yeah. That goes back to the backbone. You have to be able to tell them. I said that in my interview and after I hung up at the Zoom call, I was like, oh God, I didn't get the job. I, I told them, I was like, I'm not a a yes person. I'm not combative, but I bring experience to this role. Like you have to get to a point in your career where you're sure of, I might not know X, Y, Z company, but I know what I'm doing. I know the process, I know the methodology, and you have to trust that if you're going to hire someone into this role that you're never gonna trust, don't bother getting a chief of staff because it's not gonna be beneficial to, to.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like hold, like chief of staff, hold me accountable. I'll hold you accountable for holding the rest of the team accountable to holding me accountable.

Jim Williams:

Okay.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. I, I, I, I had a scenario where I worked for somebody wasn't, it was not head of marketing, but it was next level down a couple jobs ago where we had a kinda relationship where I would like, we both like would hold each other accountable and give direct feedback and I'd call around on stuff. It's to the point where we were in a group meeting one time and we were like very obviously not on the same page and disagreeing about something, and we ended up making a decision and I'd had people come up to me and was like, is everything okay? I'm like, yeah, why? Like, like, we, like, this is what we should do. Right? We should have these kinds of honest conversations. Ultimately, I was like, I didn't agree with that. What? What she was saying. We had a conversation about it. Ultimately, her decision. And I had my peace and we, I'm gonna go support it, right? Like, to me that was what the value was like, and it was just really interesting to, to the reaction of other people that were happened to be in the room that that was like, that's so a normal, like not a normal thing. You can be

Chloe Washington:

honest and respectful.

Regan Dodson:

Yeah. You can not mutually exclusive,

Mike Rizzo:

you can be honest and respectful and I think depending on your desire in your function. aspirations to want to, to have that li I mean, it's stressful, like, let's be real. It's stressful, right? Like you're, you're, you're signing up at, at a chief of staff role, you're signing up for a level of stress that will ebb and flow in very extreme order. Right. I imagine. I've never been to your staff, but I That sums it up

Chloe Washington:

pretty well. Yeah. know you

Regan Dodson:

like

Mike Rizzo:

it. Yeah. And, and, and there's gonna be moments where there's like hard conflict and Right. You know, and you're dealing with that and your, your, your spine is gonna feel like it's on fire. Right. And your whole self is sweating or whatever's going on. And, and that's, that's super stressful. And people sometimes don't want to do that. They just wanna be told what to do. Mm-hmm. just, Hey, this is not the role to do that. Yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

Like, I wanna make a good.

Mike Rizzo:

I want to know what you want to do and I wanted to go do it. Just tell me, tell me what you

Michael Hartmann:

wanna do. Know what to do. if I just ignore it, it'll go away. It's almost, it almost never happens if you

Chloe Washington:

just ignore it. It's gonna be two times the

Regan Dodson:

problem in six months,

Michael Hartmann:

right before Right.

Mike Rizzo:

All right, before we get, cuz we're cover up on time before we get to the end of this, and this has been so wonderful. I do want to hear Chloe. what were your, like don't, no secret sauce or anything like that, obviously but like what were your 90 days like if somebody stepped into that? Like did you come in with an opinion of any kind? Did you already know coming in that there was gonna be something you had to tackle? How did that go and, and then like what were the sort of first 90, 180 days really thinking. Uh, yeah, and we're, we're talking about a pretty big enterprise, so I imagine it'll be different in other places, but it'd be interesting just to hear

Chloe Washington:

there was a lot of, oh my God, what did I, whoa, can I do this? I mean, you know, we're in the middle of a pandemic at the time, fully remote. Hadn't met anyone in person, wasn't a chief of staff in my previous role. I had the transferrable skills. I was able to obviously get this role, but I had a lot. Ideas of things that I assumed probably needed to be like I wanted to do. Quick wins. Quick hits, like grab the low hanging fruit, build trust, build relationships, just talk to people and understand. Um, there were people that had been here for years and years and there were also new people. So trying to bridge that gap of, well, at my old company we did this, versus, well, this is how we've always done this. So trying to figure out the rhythms and the themes. I think it took, I would say a chief of staff role to really. Really get in. It's, it has, it's been very different than my other roles. Like I felt like in project program management roles, 90 days I'm in, I'm going Chief of staff. It's a lot of listening. It's fix this thing, start listening about this thing, fix this thing, start listening, and then the floodgate's open and you're like, okay, I'm planning next year's budget. All right, great. You know, there's just like, just figure it out. But it was a lot of feeling like I was on a slippery slope and trying to find the small wins for the first several months.

Mike Rizzo:

That's really

Chloe Washington:

interesting. I'm super, yeah, super helpful. I'm still here, so I didn't,

Regan Dodson:

we're good. Still having fun,

Chloe Washington:

you know? Right. Enjoying it. Still enjoying it. Definitely.

Regan Dodson:

You're killing it. You're killing it. Thank you,

Michael Hartmann:

Well, good. Well, I, I think Mike hinted this, like, we're gonna probably have to wrap up here, but before we go, I guess I'll, I'll open up a little bit. Is there anything that we hadn't talked about that you think is really important for, like, if people, our listen. primarily marketing ops folks. Like if they were interested in this kind of role, like what would you, like any last bit of thing be, you know, that they should, they should know about? Maybe go around the horn. Chloe, you first, how about that?

Chloe Washington:

Apply for the role anyway, no matter what the job description says. A lot of times companies don't know really what they want achieve of staff, so they're gonna put some bullets on some. and you can, you should still a hundred percent apply. Show why you're valuable, what your ideas are, and then your role know your role's gonna change every 90 days. The fundamental role is the same, but what you're working on, who you're talking to, what you're doing, it's like a new job every 90 days. And I love

Regan Dodson:

that.

Michael Hartmann:

It's like an internal consultant.

Chloe Washington:

Yes, very much so. Yeah,

Jim Williams:

that's right.

Michael Hartmann:

Reagan, any.

Regan Dodson:

Yeah, I think with being a marketing operations professional in general, like there, there is an executive, um, Ceiling that you can get to, right? Like you can get there. Um, if you're a campaign operations specialist or if you're a marketing operations specialist, like you can get to a director position, you can get to a chief of staff position. Like marketing Ops is not the same marketing ops it was a year ago, two years ago, and it looks different and different companies, right? I encourage you to really. First of all, join marketing ops.com and then also Um, connect with other marketing ops professionals on LinkedIn or in the community and just ask them what they're doing. I think that's really good to, to build a rapport with other marketing ops professionals.

Michael Hartmann:

Jim, any final thoughts?

Jim Williams:

Yeah, a couple. I mean, first of all, this is a great discussion, so thank you. I learned a lot, agreed on this. I think that, um, while marketing ops is, you know, clearly established itself as a critical function, it's the thing that everyone's investing in. You know, even down economy, invest, marketing ops, et cetera. The path to an executive role is still not as clear as it could be. Like if you're a marketing op person today, like how do you actually, if you want to become a CMO or a COO more likely, how do you get there? It's not quite as clear. It's just cuz it's relatively still. And I would say that this is one path to get there because it gets you to that ex executive exposure. You take on a much wider array of challenges that, uh, you know, across many different functions. Um, but you are going to have to. Sacrificed your love of tech slightly. Slightly. Yes. You know what I mean? Mm-hmm. like that's why out it's the yyy thing and you know, and you ask a couple of those whys, just get the first two whys not even five. And eventually, you're not talking about tech anymore, right? You're actually starting to talk about strategy. Um, and that that's a key thing for someone to consider.

Michael Hartmann:

I'm really glad

Mike Rizzo:

you called that out cuz I meant to say that earlier when it, when it re sort of hinted, uh, at it a little bit ago. Um, I love some of the I love that you said that. Yeah. Naomi on our team is always talking about how much she does love the tech. right? Yeah. She loves a tech and sometimes when she gets pulled too far away from it, she gets a little bu like bummed out. I don't wanna put a bunch of words in her mouth, but I have heard her say that before. Mm-hmm. Um, and it sounds like this is one of those situations where it's like you better be pretty ready to walk away from the tech

Jim Williams:

Well, well, who knows, man. You know, maybe in that role, in your head you have a workflow, you're creating an financial Yeah,

Regan Dodson:

totally.

Chloe Washington:

Oh, definitely. Tech, I still, I still wanna get in as much as I can. Like how can tech, me too. How can I make tech strategy technical. All right. Yeah. Yes. Yes.

Regan Dodson:

I love the tech too. I, it's something that I really miss, but my marketing operations manager is our tech wiz, our HubSpot wiz. Our Acadia wiz now. So I just hear it through the grapevine, um, and, and support him in the advisory setting. But the tech is the best part. I will say

Michael Hartmann:

nah, I, I am made a point where I have to tell, like when somebody asks me to, to help on the team, I'm like, okay, as long as you know that I'm gonna be the slowest one on the team at doing something wrong,

Regan Dodson:

So

Michael Hartmann:

totally fair. Just not in there every day. Well, good. This has been, I agree, like totally. This was a fun conversation. It feels like we just scratched the surface. Uh, like I think there's other kind of paths we could go down. So maybe we can continue this, uh, conversation somewhere else. But, um, thank you so much. All of you, ops Pza is where we should continue. Mapa Pza.

Mike Rizzo:

Let's do a panel. Let's have all three of you on a panel at Mos and Palooza. That's a thing. Love to do

Chloe Washington:

it. Yeah,

Regan Dodson:

let's do it. Let's go. That

Michael Hartmann:

would, that'd be great. Um, so a, if, if pokes wanna keep up with you, like go around the horn here, would you guys choose, like where, where can they kind of connect with you or keep up with what you're doing?

Chloe Washington:

LinkedIn for me. Definitely. All right. Chloe Washington so easy to find.

Regan Dodson:

LinkedIn for me, not a lot of Reagans in marketing ops. Yeah,

Jim Williams:

LinkedIn. Not easy to find. Jim Williams

Mike Rizzo:

I did find. I did find you. I, I, I just connected actually. Awesome. Thank you.

Michael Hartmann:

Mike. Mike has, Mike has a little bit of a d d. Yeah, I do. I just, I multitask.

Mike Rizzo:

I can't help it.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. Thank you so much. Really

Mike Rizzo:

appreciate it.

Regan Dodson:

Thank you, y'all. Thank you.

Jim Williams:

Thank you very much. It was a great conversation.

Michael Hartmann:

Thanks everyone, and we will see you next time. Bye. Bye everybody. All right.