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Focus on People, Focus on Teams

Microphone with speech bubble that says focus on people, focus on teams

This amazing advice was pulled directly from the Marketer’s Journey Podcast. 

One of the things I love most about chatting with marketing leaders who are so different is that they all share a similar view on what’s important—about what really matters. I’m talking about the why of what brings us to work every day to give 110% of our best. (Spoiler: It’s people.)

In some of my recent conversations with fellow marketing leaders, three different CMOs made it perfectly clear how much our teams matter to what we achieve. In other words, we do it for our team.

Allow me to share my insights on teams from CMOs whose passion is clear:

1. A CMO’s job is to build a marketing strategy on trust…which starts with team members.

“The thing that I look for is, do you trust me to do my job well enough to move the company forward?”

—Jeanne Hopkins

Jeanne Hopkins, CMO at, shared with me the necessity for CMOs to trust the team...and to be trusted by both that team and the C-level.

Lessons learned:

  1. When Jeanne thinks about going to work somewhere, she asks two questions: Can I trust the CEO? Can I trust my team?

  2. There’s no ultimate recipe for finding a company where you want to be a CMO, but if the trust’s there, that’s a strong indication.

My biggest takeaway from my conversation with Jeanne was that the trust component is a huge one. If you can’t trust implicitly (and be trusted in return), it’ll be practically impossible to get things done. She also pointed out that before she goes to work somewhere—and she’s chosen some amazing companies—she assesses how much the team believes that everyone in the company is a marketer.

Bottom line: Earn your team’s trust and give them yours.

2. Know your "why": marketers work together because they're united by a shared cause they believe in. 

“Our job is to set the priorities, inspire the why, be very measurable (so that we can make sure we’re hitting results), and then get out of the way.”

—Latane Conant

Latane Conant, CMO at 6sense, also explained her perspective on choosing a place to work. When she thought back about what makes her want to do pretty much anything to be a part of a company’s story, she knew that having a cause she believed in would excite her more than just filling a role.

Setting priorities and inspiring the why among your team:

  1. Look, it’s a CMO’s job to infuse the why into a team, whether or not they all started out with a shared excitement and vision.

  2. Latane suggested using V2MOM to align values across both the executive team and the marketing team.

  3. Bonus: Being so vision-oriented also has a positive effect on the climate of the partner ecosystem.

Hearing Latane talk first about what draws her to a company (a cause) and then inspiring that in her teammates using V2MOM to promote vision, it really hit home for me how much sharing this vision matters at work. Without a unifying cause or vision like this, we’re all just a bunch of random people who spend unholy amounts of time together, right? But with this underlying foundation of the reason why we’re all committed to this goal, we can transform into an actual team that pulls together to accomplish so much.

Bottom line: Make sure your people understand your why.

3. Imagine you’re a brand-new CMO. What’s your first task? Team building.

“To the extent that I have it in my power, I will do everything that I can to make sure that people on my team are learning as much as possible.”

—James Winter

Look, it’s not enough to investigate the executive team, the marketing team, and the vision of a company. When you join somewhere new, especially if you’re a brand-new CMO, you have to be thinking about how to invest in your team.

James Winter, VP of Marketing at Brandfolder, shared his insight into how he shows his people that their success matters to him.

  1. As soon as he became VP of Marketing, he started investing in his team’s education. Basically, his motto is that if they want to go learn something, he supports it.

  2. Transparency means being empathetic and truly wanting the best for the people on your team.

  3. Professional development, growth, and opportunity all go hand in hand. If you invest in developing your team, they’ll stay because they’re having so much fun learning.

James’ take was that team members stay because they have enough a) money, b) fun, and c) learning opportunities. As someone who is voracious to improve himself, that’s what James wants to share with his team. Basically, he takes the focused attention that marketers always spend on the customer and devotes some of it to his team’s growth, too. 

Bottom line: Develop your team to show them you care.

I learned a lot chatting with Jeanne, Latane, and James and hearing their words certainly underscored for me the importance of the team.

Teams run on trust.

Teams run on shared causes.

Teams run on learning opportunities.

Go out there and love your team!

Check out The Marketer’s Journey on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play

About the Author

Randy Frisch is a co-founder of Uberflip and held many roles, including President and CMO, where he evangelized the content experience.

Profile Photo of Randy Frisch