<img alt="" src="https://secure.data-insight365.com/265687.png" style="display:none;">
What are your SaaS company's current growth marketing challenges and wins?

June 12, 2023

Building Rapport Across Cultures and Leveraging Time Zones for Efficiency with Heidi Joy Tretheway of Garden.io

Heidi Joy Tretheway

Jeanna and Heidi Joy Tretheway, VP of Marketing at Garden, discuss how remote work has changed, strategies for becoming an exceptional remote worker, and more.

Heidi Joy Tretheway is the Vice President of Marketing at Garden, a developer productivity platform designed to simplify environment management and testing for cloud-native apps.

She has held marketing leadership roles at several B2B SaaS companies, including Quix, Signavio, and Contentful, and written 10 (!) books. She works remotely from the Pacific Northwest and Berlin.

 

Tune In
Amazon Music
Apple Podcast
Deezer
Google Podcasts
iHeart Radio
Spotify
Stitcher

 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • What it's like working in Berlin and adapting to German culture
  • How remote work has changed over the years
  • Strategies for being an efficient and productive remote worker
  • How to empower your team to develop problem-solving skills
  • The benefits of under-managing versus over-managing 
  • Why storytelling is vital to marketing

In this episode…

In this episode of Remotely Cultured, Jeanna Barrett and Garden’s Vice President of Marketing, Heidi Joy Tretheway, discuss how remote work has changed and how to master it.

Heidi discusses her experience working abroad, strategies for becoming an exceptional remote worker, and how to empower your team to solve problems on their own. She also shares why storytelling is vital to marketing and what she looks for when hiring.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

Jeanna: Hey everyone. Jeanna Barrett here. I'm the Founder and Chief Remote Officer of First Page Strategy and the host of Remotely Cultured where I talk with entrepreneurs, marketing leaders and remote employees across the globe about the work from anywhere movement. The culture of the countries they're working in, cool projects at the forefront of tech and marketing, and the culture of remote work. Today we have an incredible guest with us who has been a personal mentor, marketing colleague and a friend of mine for about 15 years, Heidi Joy Tretheway. Heidi Joy is the VP of Marketing at Garden.io, the developer productivity platform. She previously held corporate marketing leadership roles at B2B SaaS companies, including SAP, Contentful, OpenStack and Airship. She's the author of 10 books and an international speaker on publishing, writing and technology. Heidi Joy works from her home in the Pacific Northwest and from Berlin specializing in European startups. She loves brainstorming, hates email, and is proudest of building and mentoring high performing teams. In her oodles of spare time, she is learning German refereeing kids soccer or fishing and golfing with her family. Hello, Heidi. How are you?

Heidi: Great. Thank you for the invitation to be here. This is really great.

Jeanna: Yeah, we're glad to have you. Um, so where are you calling in from today?

Heidi: I'm in Berlin this week. And it's not nearly as lovely weather as you have but really showing signs of spring.

Jeanna: Well, I love that. And what is it like working from Berlin and in Germany, that's such a cool location. And I'm sure they just splitting time between Europe and and the Pacific Northwest has so much to it. But I'd love to hear what it's like for you to work in Germany and in Berlin.

Heidi: I've really embraced Berlin as my second city. And it feels like home to me. When I show up at my hotel, I get a hug from the front desk clerk, who is a personal friend now actually have a bag that lives in Berlin. So I don't go back and forth with like makeup and hair tools and pillows and shoes. I show up with clean laundry and really embrace the European way of working, which starts kind of slower in the morning extends later in the evening, often kind of follows into drinks and dinner with friends and colleagues and particularly at one company where we had all of these wonderful picnic benches in a courtyard just outside the office. We'd stay there until 9 10 11 at night ordering pizza and grabbing beer from the kitchen, just sitting around and it was sometimes the only time I had an opportunity to really connect with the engineers. So it made me a better product marketer but also like a more connected person within that company.

Jeanna: Awesome. I love that and how would you say in particular is very specifically different about the culture of working in Berlin versus the US. I know you've said it starts later and extends later. There maybe is a more community building with your coworkers like what are a couple ways you would say those are specifically different than the US culture?

Heidi: Well, I assumed that German efficiency would reign, but it's really more like German paperwork. It's more about documentation, which is great for remote workers, because we're forced to document in knowledge graphs, what's going down with your projects, and you rely more on like, documented communication and asynchronous communication, it just makes life better for remote workers. So that's actually a really big positive. Thing is in Germany, there's a lot more with workers rights. As a manager, I've had to fire a German based employee, and that is no fun, there is an enormous amount of learning you have to do as a manager to legally correctly do that. But I perceive that German workers are more intent on work life balance, and they also expect a much more direct style of communication. So like in the US, you might give, you know, they've called it the shit sandwich, right? You say, here's a positive switch in the middle of a negative and then finish with a positive and candy coat everything. And in Germany, you say, I did not like the work you did. Here's what you did wrong. I need you to do it over. And there's not a lot of sugarcoating. And even if you put someone on a performance improvement plan, they're like, oh, okay, thank you. I now see what I need to do. And people don't take it emotionally to heart. So a lot of lot of cultural.

Jeanna: Yeah. That's so cool. I feel like First Page would thrive in Germany, like three things, the three things you just mentioned are super critical. There's a lot of conversations right now in remote work, and like what it takes to be a remote first company versus just a company trying to work remote, right? The biggest thing I think that I see people talking about what we've really embraced in the last year is that idea of documentation. We kind of we stumbled upon that. And I after listening to so many people talk about it, I really dug my heels in deep last year to start documenting everything we do, because we had situations where remote employees left and they took all of our client intelligence with them. And we didn't roadmap we didn't know how things were done after they left. And so the documentation thing is so critical is yeah, like to remote work, and just figuring out how you do your role how you work as a company. I love that. That's really cool to hear that they're all about that in Germany.

Heidi: I was just gonna say I mean, I have now worked for four different European startups, three, which are based in Germany. And because we're all working in English, and we are a really heavy blend of European nationalities and American nationalities, the default seems to come back to English, but the work styles that underpin each of those kinds of nationalities are ways of working, are not something you necessarily think needs adaptation. But if you are working with somebody from France, for example, versus somebody from the Netherlands, like, you're going to expect that your French colleague is going to be much more emotive in their criticism. And you might actually take it very personally, because it sounds like you should, especially if you're an American listener, and then your Dutch colleagues is going to be even more abrupt than your German colleague. And so again, you might take it very personally. So it's really a great opportunity to kind of listen and learn about the cultures, and then start to reframe what you hear, as you know, if you're interpreting it as an American, reframe that into well, actually, they said didn't screw it up too bad. That's high praise.

Jeanna: Interesting, and that's okay. So that's very nuanced. And I feel like what you've just shared about working with Dutch employees versus German employees versus French plays is something that you've learned in your career, but how would you give advice to someone that is entering a company as a leader, a marketer or a, you know, a different leader within the company? That is a different culture than them like how have you approached learning and interpreting the different ways of working that are like so nuanced?

Heidi: I have this rule, when in Berlin always say yes. I mean, that could get you in trouble. But I remember.And this is, you know, five years ago, I was on one of my first trips to Germany and a couple oh my colleagues said, Oh, do you want to go to the spa with us? The answer is always yes. Know that it is a naked spa like you have to disrobe? No, always, yes. I mean, I have found that the best way to become part of the culture is to just say yes. And to like change the way that you're expecting like so in America, I might order a plate of food at a restaurant, and I have a pretty specific expectation on how that food is going to come out. In Germany, if it isn't something that makes me want to, you know, throw it away. I mean, then it admits a win. So I don't ask for English menus. I've memorized enough food words to know what I like and what to avoid. And then I just kind of like blindly order and cross my fingers and just dive in. And so I just, like, I have found that the less you expect to be in such a way for you, and also kind of like, I drink a lot of water. In Germany, getting somebody to bring you a four ounce glass of tap water is a struggle. So with a lot of stuff. Yeah. And so like you have to kind of learn how to serve your own kind of core needs. And then you figure out how many more things you can compromise on? Turns out, I can compromise on a lot of things.

Jeanna: Yeah, that's so great. So just being extremely adaptive to new cultures and new environments and not stuck in your own ways. Right. I think that's just great advice for the working world, and also just travel and life in general. Like I feel like that has what that is what makes me a great traveler also is like, like, if I'm not working, or if I'm working in other countries, whatever it is just being really open to embracing someone else's culture and shedding the culture that I'm used to, or that and not be stuck in the ways of that culture. Right. And it's really great advice. Cool. Um, and what is something that you love? Removing the work environment for a bit about Germany, like, tell us a little bit about just paint a picture of what it's like to be in Berlin in a day off? 

Heidi: It's, I mean, first of all, I don't even care what weather it is. It's still gorgeous to me. Berlin is everything. I moved to Portland, Oregon about 23 years ago, and now I live just north of Portland in Ridgefield, Washington. And Berlin for me is everything I wish my my current, like adjacent big city was full of trees, it's full of canals, it's full of people in the street, cafes, sidewalks, even you know, kids, kids getting together and parks drinking and stuff. It's all like, they say in Spain, that the your life is lived in the street, and therefore you have less that you own like less of a an apartment, for example. And so, in Germany, if you're going to celebrate that celebrated birthday, you don't have, you know, 20 people over to your apartment, you go to a restaurant or to a park or you have a picnic. It's all about sort of going out and being part of being in public. So absolutely adore my ability to get around in Berlin. It's totally seamless. I have a streetcar and Ivana Chanel, bong, kind of a faster train buses, scooters, bike rentals. There's more moped rentals. Like you, you literally cannot run out of ways to get yourself around to all that has to offer without actually owning a vehicle. 

Jeanna: I love that. Yeah, you just nailed a bunch of what I just thought about I was just in Europe for three weeks, and I haven't been in over a decade. So I really had forgot, but the European culture and I, what you just said I experienced also when I was in France and Portugal, it's there's just something next level about it. Like very sophisticated. Everything works just right. Everything is beautiful and thoughtful and intentional. Like it's just a really Europe is just such a special place to be in their culture is really unique from the rest of the world. And I really, I appreciate it going back. It's been too long since I've been it's been so different because I've been done in Central and South America for so long. It was lovely to be back in such a perfected sophisticated place.

Heidi: We're hosting a German exchange student who's actually from Berlin
August and so he's he's one year older than my son and so he'll be a really nice addition to my family. And also, you know, I didn't have enough teenagers in my life right? I need more. Yeah, one of the things I talked to him about was like you have an extreme amount of freedom at your house. You can literally walk out your apartment door, have five different modes of transportation, go see all your friends, go to a park and have a party and drink with your friends. Like, are you going to be okay at my house where you have to get in a car to go literally everywhere, or you have to take the bus to school. And, and so when I took my daughter over this summer, and when I took my son over last summer, my daughter was only 12, my son was 14, I literally turned them loose, like here's your cell phone, here's some cash, here's his fair credit card. Here's your here's how to get a line bike or an Uber or whatever. Go. Whoa, now explore the city. And level of free ranging I'm sure would horrify American parents. But little kids in Berlin, like as young as kindergarten are expected to take trains and buses by themselves to school. So I felt really confident having given my kids some rudimentary basics, to say now I want you to go out and explore and problem solve yourself and get lost and figure stuff out and go find things and discover things and have your own experiences that aren't attached.

Jeanna: Yeah. Oh, they're so lucky. That's great. I great for every child, but not very many parents are going to do that. So that's beautiful. I love it. Okay, well, I mentioned in in your bio, that you'd been remote for 18 years, which is incredible, really, truly an OG remote worker. And the funny thing is Heidi fun fact is Heidi and I worked together for over 15 years ago, really when I was first starting my career as a junior marketer at Colliers International. And I remember Heidi being remote and thinking it wasn't a little strange and different that you were working from home. And I was like, some, why does she do that? How did she do that? It didn't really make sense to me back then. Because as we all know, remote work just really was not embraced that long ago. So tell it tell us what was it like working remote back in the early 2000s.

Heidi: Um, it was, I wish zoom had existed then because it was all conference calls all the time. 

Jeanna: Speaker phone conference calls or like a headset conference call with a microphone?

Heidi: I wore a headset a lot.

Jeanna: That's awesome.

Heidi: I had good, I had good Wi Fi at home. So that was good. I would say that the very best thing was, I was able to hire an in house nanny for both of my kids. So like, while my kids were very baby babies, I would spend my lunch break or my coffee break going upstairs, breastfeeding, seeing these and it felt like, I just felt a lot more connected to them than if I had had to send them to take care full time. But I also had to travel a lot because my, you know, my, my work was in Seattle, I was down in Portland area. So every three weeks or so I'd be going up to Seattle and having to leave the little people behind. And that was challenging. So yeah, I mean, early stage working, I think you summed it up in an early blog post where you were like, how does anybody know if she's really doing her thing? Like, I would say it's because remote work takes away your accountability for a button, your chair, nobody's gonna walk by your cubicle and see whether you're there. And this is kind of in the days before like green light presents buttons were really a thing. But it also amps up your level of accountability. So let's say you were planning to write a blog post and it was going to take you four hours, but it takes you like two days. Gives you credit for that. As far as they're concerned. You wrote your blog post in four hours, and then just like messed around and watch soap operas. Right? Well, I found that I had to have a much higher degree of accountability. I also found myself very deliberately shutting down all forms of like, you know, housework, making myself like, you know, complicated lunches. There was none of that, like I absolutely was like hiding in my office, and not really being a part of the world outside. So like, why couldn't I just get done a few loads of laundry during the work day because I'm working and so I had to separate this.

Jeanna: Interesting and so it was almost like you felt more chained to a desk to prove you're working if anybody and to work more so that you were delivering the expectations extra, right? Like that's so fascinating. And how do you think it's changed now? Like do you feel like you're you can change the hours you work them?
About you were doing laundry in the middle of the day like, what does it feel like now for you versus then?

Heidi: I still deliberately get almost no house anything done. It just allows them to really stay in deeper focus. I also, I don't get snow days and I don't get sick days because the internet's working so well, you're still doing your thing. I mean, oh, I'm sorry, you have a cold? Well, you can still show up to work, you know, you need to be dead or in the hospital to not be, you know, to take a sick day. Since since COVID, happened, people are a lot more embracing of people's whole selves at work, their share kids their home life, I think you get like a window into people's real lives. In the right company cultures, you can be a more authentic person. And before you started recording, you and I were talking about, like, you know, how buttoned up does somebody need to get for a conference, or a client calls? My thinking is that if you have to get more buttoned up than you would be comfortably as as your natural self, then it's not a good fit for you, the more you can be true to you, the better your outcome will be at work.

Jeanna: Yeah, totally. I know. It's so funny. I still like this. I still get on calls where people, whether I'm doing an interview or something with someone outside of the company where people apologize for their dog barking in the background, and I'm like, Are we past this? Like, everybody has dogs at home? Can we stop apologizing for the dogs or like even the kids coming into the office thing like I'm that none of that bothers me or even makes a blimp in calls for me anymore. So it's because people are some people are still buttoned up. And there's still companies out there that are requiring really ridiculously ridiculous remote work boundaries or guidelines, I should say. Like, we've had a couple guys on on our team at First Page that were required to show up with suit jackets on to their Zoom calls. And so it was like, you know, truly business on the top party on the bottom. Like, who knows what was going on? Below the zoom window? But yes, it's a lot of a lot of companies are figuring that out yet, but some companies are. So it's just an interesting to see that evolution. And so you have seen like a wild evolution, the longest evolution of remote work. And I'm curious, what kind of strategies have you developed in the last 18 years that have made you a great remote worker?

Heidi: Well, part of that is that is that just deep focus on work during the workday, and I really bide my time. Like, I don't do a lot of checking slack at night. Maybe I will, if I think there's something important going on. But over the weekend, I'm almost completely disconnected from work. I mean, I'm into you know, kids soccer games, or a golf match or fishing and I'm, I'm not like popping in and out of the office. I've also found that time blocking is everything for me, when I can have deep focus on a project I can get so much more done than the interruptions and because I'm part of European companies, my timezone differences nine hours, so I can really early in the morning, I usually start my day at 6am. And I can run meetings until 9am, which is 6pm Berlin time roughly when people shut down and go to dinner, or at least leave work by then. And then for me, I like to take a you know, a dog walk in the middle of the day something to get my brain and my eyes off of the computer screen. And then I come back and then it's my deep focus time. So time blocking is one strategy. But the other which I think is even more fun is the overnights. The for for for the Berlin team. I am the overnight. So if you turn in something by the end of your workday, you know that by the time you come back to work, the very next day of work, you're actually going to have something turned back from me. And so actually accelerate our project something that might have taken four consecutive business days handed off with a team in one timezone can actually only take two business days in multiple time zones.

Jeanna: Yeah, I love that. Because that's like one of the biggest negative, like, points that you hear is that, oh, it takes triple is not a time to do something when you're remote because you're working all of these project management tools and they ping back and forth and I do see some of that. With all of us in the same time zones, but that's I can totally see how that's a benefit working on a different time zone from a European team.

Heidi: If you if you structure the project, right, then you can actually move it a lot for or a lot faster forward. And that's actually one of the reasons that we hired a Pacific Northwest based copy editor for the Berlin based content production team. That copy editor could turn around overnight things. So never to slow down the copy team.

Jeanna: Okay, so you're you're actually going into the planning of you're building your team and also building timelines. With this piggy back of time zones being leveraged?

Heidi: It works better that way. Yeah.

Jeanna: That's fascinating. I love that. I haven't heard that before. That's a great tip. Hire your team in different time zones to save the hours that most of us are sleeping to get people to work during those sleeping hours. Genius!

Heidi: Also, I would add that my team, so I was the supervisor for a team that was mostly based in Berlin, and I was mostly based in Washington State. So overnight, problems would come up, right, the first, you know, two thirds of their day, they would have a problem on a breakdown. And so I spent a tremendous amount of time working with the team on resolving breakdowns, avoiding the shame, blame guilt spiral, focusing on our shared intention, and our project play plans, excuse me.
And just really helping the team figure out how to resolve problems among themselves, how to build. So that if you were like, let's say, you were critiquing something I'd written, I already had trust in you that you weren't exercising your red pen to show that, you know, Jeanna is a better writer than Heidi. And then just to be, I would say, look at Jeanna would not never want me to look bad in public. She's helping me. But every question she makes is showing her support of me not denigrating me. And so by focusing on that team culture, I would go to bed at night, wake up the next morning there 17, Slack messages in a thread of Oh, no break down problem, who can help? How can we fix this? What are our, let's get this solved. And by the time that that string had, I'd read through that string, I could see it was fully resolved. And I was just starting my day as this. So I'm saying you need to empower your team, particularly if they are not in your same time zone, and you are their supervisor. You have to empower your team to solve their own problems, and set themselves and set them up for success with a psychological safety so that they do solve those problems. And you don't end up logging on in the morning and saying, oh, no, what exploded overnight when I was sleeping.

Jeanna: Yeah. So do you spend a lot of time when you first join teams like front loading some of that work with the building trust? And then problem solving? And is there like, what do you specifically do? Is there like a format you've developed and followed presentations? Books that people your team reads? Or like, How do you tackle that as a leader from the get go?

Heidi: We do I use this framework that I know that you and I worked on it at Colliers International called market force, which helps me better understand people's work styles. And the things that I like to go over with people are, what is their preferred communication style? Do they want you to tell them something in bullets, or with a huge historical spreadsheet, or like big picture narrative? Let's get excited about it. without too many specifics, or here's the work plan, here's exactly how we're gonna get it done. So you come to your teammates with these different communication styles, wants to hear or tailored to what your executive wants to hear, right. And then the other thing that we've talked a lot about is breakdowns and what kinds of things really undermine someone. So I had one person on my team who just really loved to get stuff done, right? She saw her value and how much she could produce. So anytime somebody would say, Well, you're not included, because you don't have any value to add here. It would blow her up. It would make her feel so bad. And so helping teammates be aware, to say, look, I see you're really busy. You've already added value in this other way, which is why I didn't ask you to participate in this project, but you're welcome to see it. It's transparent here for you just gave her a lot of confidence that she wasn't being excluded because she wasn't valuable.
Or another person was like very much the quality control type person. So she would get blown up anytime anybody tried to skip that step. So it just helps. You always needed to be checking in with this person, because this person was going to make us that much better. And here's why and how and so then we kind of grew to trust her as our quality control person.

Jeanna: Love it. Yeah, this is similar to a concept. I've heard a couple different companies presenting on recently at lazy and just talked about this at the running remote conference. And then I've seen it, click up internal and click up they posted about this last year, something we're trying to do at this page, but it's this idea of like a working with me document so that you can share with remote teams. So like, what, who am I what makes me insecure? How do I work? What's my style, and it's so I love it, because it's so important when you're not in an office and you can't build the report of someone's humor or someone's personality in the kitchen, or when you're doing ping pong or happy hour, it's important to know, kind of the idiosyncrasies of how everybody works, because we're all bizarre. We're all humans, everybody works differently. Everybody's, you know, personalities are in a different way. Or they come across in different some people are more aggressive and forwards and people are more Stanback. You know, since I love this idea of just getting to know your team as especially remote before you are you work together. Cool. Well, you've you're kind of talking a lot here about these leadership things that you do. And I know that you said that you were super proud of building a team of superstar superstars. And this idea of like building remote stars is something that you've perfected and worked on. And you have personally hired, managed and coached more than 10 people who are now heads of marketing, which is really incredible.
And so I just want to hear kind of about what your system is here for this idea of building remote work rockstars.

Heidi: Well, I love to hire people who are kind of either, usually they're entering the mid phase of their career. That means they have, you know, seen and done at least a couple of different roles prior, there's starting to get a better sense of what really turns them on and what leaves them cold, you know, early in their career, you might just take whatever job you can get, later, later on, you start to specialize. And you also start to figure out what drives your energy up? And what brings it down, right? I love to hire good thinkers who are really curious. And so one person who I hired who's now the head of marketing at a security company, I asked them, well tell me, you know, it tells me about what kind of job you want. And they said, Well, I'm not really sure. And I'm like, Okay, well you applied for technical marketer, let me give you this option, which is come in be a technical marketer for a year, I know you're capable of doing this a technical content writer, I know you're capable of doing this, I suspect you're going to be bored with this in a year. And you're going to want to do something different and I'm promising as your leader to partner with you in finding and then skill up skilling yourself to take on that new role. Like we we had a growing company, we had every reason to believe that there would be more roles in the future. And this person ended up being moved from being a technical copywriter to becoming the new media managing editor. And so they were responsible for social media for video for becoming the voice of Contentful. And then also for helping us define our problematic market segments, which was marketers who did not want to let go of their CMS unless you pried it from their cold dead hands, and actually
teaching those marketers to really embrace our product and to get comfortable with our product. And this person had like just the right skill set to be able to kind of bring that all together. So I don't really feel very attached to exactly what role I'm hiring. I'm very attached to somebody with smarts, ambition, basic skills, that like I don't want to teach them to write for example. I do want to teach them to build projects or build project plans or you know, manage something new and that I found to be really successful.

Jeanna: Interesting and do you I need a little bit probably sometimes too far into experience when I'm hiring I think because I love to see people with like
got massive amount, we try to hire like experts only at First Page. But where I do struggle a little bit I'm interested in kind of your interview process is how in an interview process, you can take it down a layer and really get to the labor culture part like, who are you? How do you work? What is your quality control? What kind of person are you to work with? Like, do you have any tips in terms of some of the questions or things you focus on interviews to get to that early?

Heidi: Hmm, I really do love to find out what makes people tick. I see them about what they do on weekends, I don't want to ask them specifically about family or anything that would be an HR violation. But I like to see what they do on weekends, partly because I want to see how busy they are. And like, what, what their passions are. I asked them about their recent side projects. And, you know, like, what, what is your, if it's a side hustle, maybe, but like, what is it the thing that you're doing that is taking you to the next level, like right now I'm learning German. So I'm spending, you know, an hour a day on Duolingo, trying to appropriate things. And I think that doing something that's hard, even if you're not good at it is itself kind of a signifier that this person is not going to, at the end of the day, crack open a beer, put their feet up and watch reality TV. So I kind of look for people who have that, like extra points of interest what whatever those interests may be. And I'm also really curious to hear about people, when they talk about where they want to take their careers. They they talk in terms of how they want to go and have an impact, rather than what they want to go get. It's like adjusting, as opposed to a getting mentality.

Jeanna: Yes, love that. Those are great, great tips. And in terms of building these leaders that you have worked so hard to develop as a manager or a VP, or whatever role you're in, you were remote the whole time. So I'm sick, I'm interested, what kind of hand holding and not hand holding do you do as a remote leader, as you're developing these people?

Heidi: I confess, I probably tend to under manage rather than over manage. And so that's something that I've kind of learned about my own work style. But I learned through a framework called situational leadership, that depending on what you're asking of people, you're going to approach it in different ways. So if it's something that somebody's never done before, and particularly if they express reservations, or they're not really keen on doing it, you need to be able to go in as a coach who says, okay, Jeanna, I want you to do this thing. I know you haven't done it before. But I want you to trust that with part like, I'll partner with you, I'm going to coach you through it, you can make this happen. And here's how we're going to go about doing it. You know, step 1, 2, 3 resources 1, 2, 3. Here's where you should ask questions, here are the benchmarks for your project. So you can check in and make sure you're going down the right path, rather than go all the way down the wrong path only to realize that you've done it wrong. And so that's the kind of communication I'd have with somebody who hasn't done a thing before. And I end up having a lot of people who are like new to things, but I already have kind of a framework or a system to coach them through it and and take it on, then for people who have like really demonstrated they're capable. Those are the people where I'm not going to go in and say here, do you think one two and three, I'm going to say hey, Jana, you are great at this, you know, thing that you did previously. Now I want you to take further leadership take this project further. What do you think you are going to do to start out how are you going to frame the project? What are your benchmarks? What What questions do you have for me? And when should we plan to check, check back to make sure it's on the right track? And then how can I help give you more resources or elevate you as the leader of the project? I really emphasize trying to get the people who actually do the work to be the ones who actually speak about the work to the executive team, which gives them more visibility and also makes them more promotable.

Jeanna: I love that. You're great. You're such a great leader. Do you want to come be my manager? I definitely am like taking in what you're saying here because I feel like even though I lead a company, yeah, managing people properly, it is so difficult and it's constantly a learning process for me. And definitely like some of the stuff you were saying about problem solving and then how to mentor people and like let them run or things I'm constantly working on. So it was really great advice.
Cool. Well, I know we have another thing that we mentioned in your interview was that you are an author of or in your bio was that you were an author of 10 plus books and a storyteller at your core, which reading 10 books is incredible, but you're also a super accomplished marketer. And I just want to hear really briefly before we wrap this up, why is storytelling so important to marketing? And how do you leverage storytelling as a marketer?

Heidi: Well, fundamentally, we tell stories as humans for survival, right? Storytelling is part of our DNA. And so if we, as marketers can do something other than slap smack you in the face with a brand, we can tell you a story about the brand, we can tell you a story about how this product delivered this result, you're going to remember it better, you'll be able to tell it to other people. And you'll also believe it more. So when I frame out case studies, for example, I like to use this concept of the hero's journey or like a storytelling framework, where I put greater emphasis on the impediments to that, you know, to the company that that I'm writing a case study about, and I try to make that customer the hero of the journey, the products, the product I'm selling is not robotic, is nearly like the magic powder. But the magic powder is the thing that the hero has to find, you know, go on a quest to get right here to get budget approval, he had to get this all done and within a certain time, right, and then takes that magic powder that is there. That is your product. And the customer is the hero because they are you know slaying the dragon or crossing the mountaintop, or, or whatever it is, that is, you know, the ultimate goal of your customers. So I like to say that a story is worth 1000 stats. So you got some really great stats in your case study. But if you cannot, in a sentence or two, say that my company's product was able to reduce the amount of time that it takes to run an entire test from an hour to just two and a half minutes. And that's for a fortune 500 company. And so that leaves their developers, you know, five extra weeks per year to do cool stuff. If you can't tell a story around something simplistic way, then people are not going to stick around long enough to say, Ooh, tell me more. It's that's intriguing and creates the leaning in.

Jeanna: Yeah. Love it, especially now when there's just oodles and endless content on the on the web. You really have to make people pay attention. Yeah. Cool. All right. So I have three final questions for you to wrap this up. The first one is, what is your one work from anywhere tool or item that you could never live without?

Heidi: Oh, this I'll just grab it off my desk. I have a little notepad and pen. And I mean, everything else is happening on my screen. So having my little notepad here to my left to focus on my priorities for the day. Even if I have 10 different screens running, which I usually do and you know, 40 tabs open. That is my focus, a little bit of analog and digital worlds.

Jeanna: Cool. And who is a mentor, a colleague or partner of yours that you want to give a shout out to? And what is the best advice they've given you that has impacted you?

Heidi: I would absolutely shout out to Chris Shaggin, who is the CMO of Contentful for five years built that company from 500,000 ARR to north of 70 million in ARR. Just a force of nature and one of the things I really appreciated that he said was at your earliest stage in in the company, you might be starting at you know you're starting in tents on the ground and look we're gonna build ourselves a bunk house with bunk beds and like a little motel with running water. Aren't we proud? And then once you get kind of higher, like through your round Series C Series D Series E. You start to bring in kind of more operational people from very large enterprises and they come in and they look at what you built with bubblegum and duct tape and your own bare hands. And they're like the five star hotel executive who says what is this trash? You people are terrible. How you know like what? Who wants a bunk bed? Nobody wants that. And so you have to kind of embrace the fact that at every stage in your startup journey, you're going to be doing a different level. And it might make the previous level look bad. And it does. It's not for lack of intellect. It's simply the lack of resources. So you can trust and grow your people into that five star hotel experience. But it takes us really special person to have built that, you know, first set of little bunk beds, so don't don't hate on them just because kind of the bunk beds. Yeah. Simplistic. Just kind of keep growing your team to greater and greater levels of sophistication. And that's okay.

Jeanna: Love it. That's great advice. All right. And if someone wanted to learn more about you, where should they go online?

Heidi: I have a personal website, just heiditreadaway.com. And I like to write all about some of the stuff we were talking about, like building a star system. So I have blog posts there, my speaker credits there, and eventually I'll be posting this podcast there.

Jeanna: Cool. Awesome. All right. Hey, thank you so much. You gave such great advice here from leadership to remote work and all the things we really loved having you and thanks again.

Heidi: My pleasure.

Latest Episodes

Creating A Viral Product Growth Loop, Expanding Into Sales-Led From PLG, And Learning How To Not

Creating A Viral Product Growth Loop, Expanding Into Sales-Led From PLG, And Learning How To Not "Eat The Marshmallow" As A Remote Leader With Curtis Duggan of Lemon Squeezy And Remotely Serious

Curtis Duggan, who leads partnerships at Lemon Squeezy and hosts the Remotely Serious podcast, joins Jeanna on this episode of Remotely Cul...

February 13, 2024

The Art of Creating Incredible In-Person Retreats for Your Remote Company With Matt Young of Nomadic6

The Art of Creating Incredible In-Person Retreats for Your Remote Company With Matt Young of Nomadic6

In this episode of Remotely Cultured, Jeanna chats with Matt Young, CEO of Nomadic6, about the art of creating in-person retreats for remot...

December 19, 2023

How SaaS Companies Can Effectively Create (And Document!) Processes, Fun Ways To Hold Your Leadership Team Accountable, and a Game-Changing Hiring Tips With Suzie Cyrenne of Buster Fetcher

How SaaS Companies Can Effectively Create (And Document!) Processes, Fun Ways To Hold Your Leadership Team Accountable, and a Game-Changing Hiring Tips With Suzie Cyrenne of Buster Fetcher

In this episode, Jeanna welcomes Suzie Cyrenne, Co-founder and COO of Buster Fetcher and Zumalka, to discuss remote work culture and proces...

December 05, 2023