PODCAST 139: The Science of Becoming a Better Sales Leader with Luke Rogers


If you missed episode 137, check it out here: From Marketer to CEO: The Power of Brand as a Growth Amplifier with Jake Sorofman

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:09]
  2. Who is Luke Rogers and what is Instabase?[3:15]
  3. The keys to great leadership [18:24]
  4. A more scientific interview process [20:35]
  5. How to build a more diverse team [24:50]
  6. The role experience plays in evaluating job candidates [27:25]
  7. Who and what inspires Luke [30:06]
  8. Sam’s Corner [34:03]

Show Introduction [00:09]

Sam Jacobs: This week on the show, we’ve got Luke Rogers, the Vice President of Sales at Instabase. Luke has a really interesting life story. At 15, he began going to school part-time in Northern England in Manchester, so that he could run a technology consulting business that he had started.

Through that, he went to university where he studied AI and cybernetics, ultimately leading big teams in EMEA for AppDynamics. He now leads the sales function at a really promising and high-growing unicorn called Instabase.

Before we dive into it we want to thank our sponsors. The first is 6sense. Salespeople are often wasting time. They’re fumbling around with junk leads, just absolutely junk leads, static lists, these lists don’t change. They’re static and haphazardly reaching out to accounts that aren’t ready to close. The 6sense account engagement platform uncovers and analyzes buyer intent at scale, identifying prospects who are in market for your solution and providing salespeople like you with the insight to create highly relevant messaging, generate more opportunities, increase deal size, and get into opportunities before your confrontation. Learn how modern sales teams with deals, win deals now. Modern sales teams, winning deals using 6sense. Go to 6sense.com/saleshacker.

I can tell you from personal experience, 6sense is a really, really cool and powerful suite of technology tools and also just a great company. And they’re doing really, really interesting and powerful things. It’s all about understanding when people are in market versus in funnel. Not get to them before they become a lead, get to them when they’re beginning to do their research, because most people make decisions about the vendor that they choose before they fill out the lead form. Often the lead form is way down in their process. And the first thing they’re doing is searching around on the internet for solutions and beginning to educate themselves, and 6sense can help you find those companies when they’re beginning to search for your solution and then get them right at the moment that they’re going to be most interested. Really cool stuff.

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Now, without further ado, let’s listen in on my conversation with Luke Rogers.

Who is Luke Rogers and what is Instabase?[3:15]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. Today on the show we’ve got a really inspiring sales leader, Luke Rogers, who’s the VP of Sales at a really exciting company called Instabase. So let me give you his bio quickly. Having founded his first company at age 15, Luke Rogers, now VP: sales at Instabase, is determined to turn the world of technology upside down in more ways than one, a passionate believer that experiences is the least important quality when building an elite go-to-market team. The world of tech sales must become a more diverse place. He has dedicated his career to teaching sales as a science. His degree in artificial intelligence and cybernetics combined with over a decade of enterprise sales experience has equipped him with a rich technical and business skillset.

Prior to joining Instabase, Luke joined AppDynamics, which grew from a $100 million to a $3.7 billion sale to Cisco in just four years. Luke, welcome to the show.

Luke Rogers: It’s an absolute pleasure, Sam. Thank you for having me.

Sam Jacobs: We’re excited to have you. As you know, as a loyal listener, we start with your baseball card, an opportunity for you to tell us who and what Instabase is. So we know you’re Luke Rogers, we’re going to dive into your background and biography. You’re the VP of sales at Instabase. What is Instabase?

Luke Rogers: On your smartphone, you have an app store where you can find a dozen apps to have food delivered to your door, but there’s no such app store where a large enterprise, for example, a bank can find an app for income verification or an insurance company can find an app for processing claims. Every one of those apps is custom built from the ground up, and Instabase exists because we ask why? The vision for Instabase is to make computers work for people and to become the new operating system for the enterprise and for the internet.

What we enable is businesses to basically use a toolkit that is powered by very, very sophisticated, modular building blocks to build customizable apps for automating different parts of their business. So for example, a bank can build an app that can automatically verify customer income in a fraction of a second or an insurance company can build an app that can process insurance claims in seconds, which in the real world today, all of those tasks are done by human beings and endless, endless armies of data entry analysts. And it is just a really inefficient process that exists in a really significant way in the world and adds really no value. It’s just because documentation and those kinds of processes are underpinned by so much paper today. Instabase exists to give people that app store, to give organizations the ability to create those systems very quickly and to automate these really inefficient parts of their processes.

Sam Jacobs: Are you teaching enterprises a coding language? I would imagine that building some of these apps requires some technical expertise. How do you indoctrinate that?

Luke Rogers: We’re trying to abstract the technical expertise out and away from it as much as possible. So there already exists an app store or the Instabase Marketplace where these first-party apps, you can go online now, download an app for automatically processing bank statements or driving licenses or passports. And it requires zero technical skills whatsoever. It’s really a self-contained app. Now, if you want to create your new apps, rather than the process that exists today of having to write endless lines of code and assemble huge development teams, what we actually enable you to do is put what we call primitives, but you can liken them to Lego bricks. So you assemble these Lego bricks together to create these apps very quickly.

So one example is Bank of America under the SBA PPP loan program, we’re inundated with weeks and weeks and week’s worth of PPP loans to process that they just couldn’t garner the manpower to process. And in six days, Instabase was able to design and configure an app to process those SBA PPP loans. And we took the processing volume time down from 10,000 a day to 10,000 an hour, and they did that in six days and they built the app themselves with us.

Sam Jacobs: That’s pretty cool. I love it. And Instabase, you’re already a unicorn. Give us a little bit about the stage of growth that you’re at. It was one of these companies that raised a tremendous amount of money before anybody even knew who they were, but give us in your words.

Luke Rogers: So the company only came out of stealth just over a year ago, October 2019, just after it did its series B. What was fascinating about Instabase is it started its life as such a powerful piece of technology born out of a research project at MIT. So our founder was told by his MIT professors to drop out and start a company. And off he went, pedaled down Sand Hill Road, met the likes of Greylock and NEA, and raised a huge series A without really any material ARR or actually much of a commercially viable product. But the investors just saw the huge potential and the platform that he’d created, as did his professors at MIT.

But what then came within the course of a year of raising that money, it was just massive interest from in particular, the banking and insurance community. And we’ve got Standard Chartered is one of our earliest clients who they now have got hundreds of apps deployed on Instabase and users in over 25 different countries. They saw that client onboarding times dropped from 41 days on average to eight days after they deployed Instabase.

Sam Jacobs: Wow. Those are great stats. I’m excited for you. Let’s learn a little bit more about you because you’ve got a really interesting background. So tell us about your origin story. You’ve got an English accent. Am I talking to you in Toronto? Is that right?

Luke Rogers: You’re talking to me in Toronto, yeah. I married a Canadian, a dual national British, so we were lucky enough to have our first child just over a year ago and we decided to come home and be with her family for that. And it’s just been a real blessing to be around family. And also, explore a beautiful new city. I’m now a happy permanent resident of Toronto, but always open to new places in the future. But yeah, you detect an English accent. The origin story is I grew up outside of Manchester in the UK. If you’ve heard of Manchester, I’m sure you’ve heard of the football team or the soccer team.

I grew up there and was there at school. I actually left home at age 15, on good terms with my parents, but I’d got to a point where I just kind of outgrew the family and we went our different ways. And one of the catalysts for that was I had set up a company while I was at school, in high school. And it was essentially providing consulting services for people in my local town and surrounding area. And back then at that time, this was around 2000, 2001, everyone was freaking out about the millennium bug, if you remember that, I’m sure you do.

Sam Jacobs: Of course, Y2K.

Luke Rogers: Y2K. And so I found my angle there and everyone was installing Windows ME, which was a categorical disaster. Everyone was buying wifi access points for the first time and no one knew how to set them up. And so there was just this huge opportunity, and I’d spent time working a weekend job at an electrical retailer, just like Best Buy, but in the UK and just saw that so many people were so out of their depth with these consumer electronics and computers and just thought, Hey, there’s a big angle here. And before I knew it, I just had unprecedented demand for the services. I ended up working an out of hours helpline that was running from 6:00 PM till 6:00 AM. I was selling PCs online through an e-commerce site that I’d built and also, actually doing web design services for local businesses who’d come and said, “Hey, I think we need this. We need websites now. Apparently, it’s a thing.” And so I taught myself web design.

The whole business just grew up and blew up so much that I actually had to go and negotiate with my principal, a part-time study arrangement on the basis that I maintain a particular GPA at school, and it all worked out. The business was turning over about a quarter of a million pounds a year but by the time I was ready to go to university.

Sam Jacobs: That’s amazing. And so the business funded your way through university, is that right?

Luke Rogers: Yeah. So I was able to take the profit I made through that journey. And then I’d, by that point, taken on a business partner. He opted to buy me out and liquidated my share in the company. And that was enabled to put me through university without needing to take on massive loans. That was huge for me coming from a family without much means, and being able to do that without much of a debt burden, and go to a university that I was actually quite in awe of as well and do a degree I was in awe of.

Sam Jacobs: That’s fantastic. And so what happened after university? How did you find your way into the sales world? One of the questions I have is how did you determine that you wanted to go to work for somebody else after being so successful, starting your own business at such a young age?

Luke Rogers: So I had opted to do a really technical degree. I wanted to study a field that challenged me and it wasn’t something that I was already deeply familiar with. So I opted to study artificial intelligence and cybernetics, and then also with Chinese Mandarin on the side because I just wanted to stretch my mind.

Sam Jacobs: Light course load there.

Luke Rogers: You’ve got to do something with all the nights out in the bars. It was so fascinating to study a subject that was really talking about the future in such a present way and saying that these technologies are already far more pervasive than you think they are. I just got really, really, really excited about what the world of technology was all about, and my eyes started getting open to the likes of Silicon Valley companies.

The challenge with all of this was, I was at university from 2005 to 2008, and we all know what happened in 2008. And so there weren’t a lot of thriving startups around to go join. I knew I was ready to go and learn from someone else, from a bigger organization, from other leaders. I knew I didn’t want to go back to a small town and run a small business. I knew I wanted to get into the world of tech and learn about that. And so I just set to work applying for all of the grad schemes, Google, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, you name it. I probably applied to eight or nine of them and I got into the majority of them.

But in 2008, Cisco was offering a graduate sales academy based in Amsterdam. And there’s a 20-year-old guy, a paid year to go and work and be taught and Amsterdam was pretty appealing.

Sam Jacobs: Absolutely. And so you were an individual rep at Cisco and then I guess, would you say that things really took off when you joined AppDynamics in 2013?

Luke Rogers: Yeah, I think it was a meaningful part. I was at Cisco for three and a half years, and then I was told by a mentor to go to IBM or go to a different company if I wanted to get a pay rise because I was stuck on that graduate pay band. And I did, and I really discovered what I didn’t want from my own career and the kinds of people that, as nice as they all were, I just didn’t want to be around a lack of ambition and a lack of drive. And I really felt that with my time at IBM. So I actually started a second business, which they shut down because they weren’t happy with the fact that I have done that in company time, it was a breach of contract, all that good stuff that I had been too naive to realize at the time, and just realize that this is the time to go and work for a startup. And AppDynamics, as you say, was the startup that I chose in 2013, but it wasn’t because of the product and the market, it was really because of the people that I met.

Sam Jacobs: Tell me about those people. What was special about them?

Luke Rogers: I think I’d been lacking any form of manager or leader in my career to that point. And that was really pushing me, really, really pushing me to achieve things that weren’t easily obviously achievable. I met this gentleman called Jeremy Duggan, who’d just been appointed GM of EMEA by the board of AppDynamics. And they were scaling out the operation. And I knew about this gentleman, Jeremy. He has quite the reputation in the UK. He’d already taken and seen two companies through to a billion dollars, Bladelogic and Essential Software. And he came from the PTC School of Sales and everyone warned me about him. They all told me, “Yeah, he’s a horrible person. He runs a hire and fire culture.”

Sam Jacobs: Horrible person

Luke Rogers: People were really quite aggressive about it.

Sam Jacobs: Jeremy, if you’re listening, I don’t think you’re a horrible person.

Luke Rogers: And I now know he’s not, having worked for him for such a long time. But what it made me realize is when I did meet him, that he isn’t a horrible person, but if you are somebody that has ambition and drive and wants to achieve things that seem very difficult, it’s the greatest thing that could ever happen to someone like me. But he’s probably the worst thing that could ever happen to somebody that doesn’t want those things, which is maybe where a bit of that reputation came from. Like people who really aren’t trying to push the envelope, they’re not his thing. And it just made me want to be around someone like that because I knew he would assemble a culture and a team of people like that. And that’s just what he did.

Sam Jacobs: And then how long were you at AppDynamics?

Luke Rogers: Seven and a half years. I had quite a journey. So I was the first rep he hired in the UK. Two years later, he promoted me to be the first manager, regional director in the UK to build out a team. And then two years after that, I became the VP of the UK, now running four or five teams, took on responsibility for the Nordics, then ultimately all of Northern Europe and then just acted as interim GM of EMEA through the end of the fiscal year in 2019. And then all through that, the company had been acquired in 2017 by Cisco but had been left to be an autonomous business unit as part of Cisco. So we were operating very autonomously and independently continuing to grow, continuing to be successful.

And then in 2019 we got pregnant and decided to go and be in Canada for the birth of my daughter. And so that’s when they facilitated a move for me to move over to run the US central business and Canada.

The keys to great leadership [18:24]

Sam Jacobs: You’ve had a pretty, I don’t know if it’s meteoric, but it’s a steady ascension from being an individual contributor now to having built and run teams all over Europe and now in the Americas. As you’ve become and now are an experienced leader, what do you think the keys to great leadership is? And to assembling an effective and powerful team?

Luke Rogers: Ultimately, any leader should say this, which is it’s about recruiting the right people. Any business book you read, it’s all around the right people, but there’s more to it than just getting the right people in the boat. I think it’s what is the right person? In my opinion, it’s hiring for intelligence, resilience, and entrepreneurship, instead of experience. That for me is the key learning. And of course, somebody like me who got plucked out of Cisco and IBM with no very mediocre experience, no enterprise software experience, I had that same experience coming into a company and being given a shot, and I think if people are really smart, really coachable, really resilient and entrepreneurial, they’ll thrive in a startup environment.

One of the lessons that I’ve learned is that those people that are just looking for a big paycheck, they’ll stick around just as long as it’s easy to make big money, and then as soon as it’s not, or as soon as things don’t go their way, they’re nowhere to be seen. And the really damaging thing about people like that, and I’ve seen plenty of them now, is that as they get towards that point where everything doesn’t start to go that way and they don’t get the promotion because actually they’re not really the right people to lead, and maybe they don’t get all the accounts that they want and the patch needs to start being redistributed, is that they become a bit toxic. And another thing I’ve learned is that no breath is better than bad breath. The longer you let those people stick around as much as they might be your top earners, the worse you make it for everyone else, and actually the worse you make it for yourself.

Sam Jacobs: I’ve never heard that. No breath is better than bad breath. As somebody with bad breath, that hurts.

Luke Rogers: But luckily I don’t have to experience that, so.

A more scientific interview process [20:35]

Sam Jacobs: We’re at a distance right now. One of the reasons people focus on experience is because it’s a proxy for an ineffective recruiting or interviewing process where they don’t feel comfortable assessing somebody’s skills and determining if somebody is resilient or entrepreneurial or self-driven. Have you been forced to design the point of sales as a science? Have you been forced to design a more scientific interview process so that you can suss out those qualities?

Luke Rogers: Absolutely. And I can’t obviously take all the credit for it because this harks back to a gentleman named John McMahon, who has trained a number of people in looking for these traits and priorities. So this isn’t my proprietary idea, but I’ve certainly bought into it, believed in it and evolved it. And as you are trying to enable leaders that you bring in to bring in the right talent, you do have to give them tools and techniques. So one of the things that we will do is we’ll take a big pile of resumes and we’ll do a yes-no exercise and we’ll give them no prompts, and we’ll say, “Hey, right. Would you hire this person?” And then they have to come up with all the reasons why they should.

And then what we really do is we teach them to see what a resume really says about somebody and read between the lines to find these qualities, and then also read between the lines to ask the right questions and understanding what somebody has been through in their life and what their life story is about, will you proper insights into their levels of resilience, because a lot of people have thankfully led very comfortable lives. And it doesn’t mean those people also aren’t great, but there is a direct correlation in my opinion, between those people that have sought out discomfort in their life, or have been forced through it and risen out of it in the right way and beaten it and a direct correlation between those people in success.

And so it’s about asking the right questions and also being able to read the resume in the right way, so also you’re not wasting your time being sold to, by a myriad of candidates that are never going to work out. And another thing that a mistake I’ve made is I’ve hired people because I’ve fallen for them and I thought, this is somebody I really want to give them a chance. And as long as they’re coachable, and as long as that tough, it’s all going to work out. But the other hard lesson I’ve learned is that certainly when you’re talking about startups, if they’re not intelligent enough, they’ll never truly make it. They’ll never be able to handle the levels of ambiguity that we need in a startup world.

Sam Jacobs: You mentioned reading the resume the right way and asking the right questions. Give us one or two examples of a really good question that you rely on or an interesting experience that might not be obvious to somebody that hasn’t reviewed a resume carefully before that would jump out to you as indicative of the qualities you’re looking for.

Luke Rogers: So there’s basic things like the people who jump around a lot, that have a very small, like a sub two year tenure between roles. Because for me that demonstrates a lack of resilience because they tend to leave when things get tough or they don’t go their own way. Another thing that I tend to like to see is people that have pursued non-academic achievements outside of work, that have done remarkable things.

Some of the examples I could give, one lady that I was privileged enough to hire had danced on stage ballet at the Royal Albert Hall, and had done an incredible standard of outdoor mountaineering. Another person had diffused bombs for the Royal Navy underwater in shipyards, and was trained as a military underwater bomb disposal diver. Another gentleman had lived with monks in some of the highest mountains in Nepal and studied and fasted for many months in a voyage of self-discovery. And so smart people will put that kind of detail out on their resume or out on their profile because those are really remarkable achievements that they should be proud of. And those are the remarkable achievements of typically remarkable people. And people who aren’t remarkable, they don’t typically have that many remarkable achievements.

How to build a more diverse team [24:50]

Sam Jacobs: Well said. One of the big efforts and a big focus for you is diversity, and making sure that you’re doing your part, talk a little bit about your perspective on how to build diverse teams and what you’re doing at Instabase to further that effort in that goal.

Luke Rogers: I was raised by a single mother, and so I have a passionate and strong belief for the fact that women can do anything and the world should be a very equal place. Coming up through Cisco, that wasn’t so much of a thing. Cisco had actually done a very good job, certainly at the graduate level of assembling a diverse culture, certainly on the agenda from, but also other fronts. So I didn’t have too much exposure to it there. But it was really when I got into my time not just within AppDynamics but also looking at a lot of other tech startups, that I realized that it’s a bit of a boy’s club.

Sam Jacobs: I think that’s an understatement.

Luke Rogers: It’s a bit of an understatement, right? And it’s a self-perpetuating problem because the more guys you promote into leadership positions, people who aren’t trained in looking for talent in the way that I have been, you recruit people that are like you. It’s natural, it’s a human instinct. And therefore, people who aren’t like you, i.e middle-class white men, don’t get a shot. And especially when you’re hiring for experience, then that’s a particular problem because you go out there looking for five years of enterprise SaaS sales experience, you’re mostly going to find middle-class white guys.

And what I’ve been taught to believe and what I do believe is that by deprioritizing experience and prioritizing intellect and character and resilience and entrepreneurship, you can hire people from anywhere. I’ve hired people from finance, from recruitment, from marketing, and they’ve been exceptional. And so, I would love for us all collectively as an industry and as leaders across the industry to shatter this belief that enterprise software sales experience is a necessary requirement when hiring great talent, because it’s an impediment to assembling diverse teams because there’s just not the talent pool of people out there that is diverse, that has that experience right now. We’ve got to create it through an effort in education and enablement and through giving people a shot.

The role experience plays in evaluating job candidates [27:25]

Sam Jacobs: I completely agree with you at the same time that I personally have become who I am as a human being, because of experience, and because I’ve learned lessons often the hard way. What role does experience play for you in evaluating a candidate?

Luke Rogers: So the latter part of that question is absolutely the case. We built an outstanding enablement organization at AppDynamics for that very reason, because our mantra was about the experience last and we had not just one boot camp, we had two, and we had this extensive quarterly training program that operated in every theater. We had this really sophisticated e-learning platform. And we had in-field enablement leaders that were individual contributors whose sole job it was to shadow sales calls with reps to help them ramp as quickly as we possibly could. So you do have to over-index on enablement and training in that configuration.

Where does experience play a role? It still plays an experience. It’s not off the table completely. It’s just the bottom. It’s the least important criteria for me. And the amount of experience required depends on the phase of growth of the company. If I was today, go and recruit 10 people straight out of university into Instabase, as it’s growing from 10 million in ARR and beyond, then that’s not going to be a particularly smart move because there is some level of self-sufficiency that’s required. And because there isn’t an established enablement organization yet, then that would be a much harder ramp for those kinds of people.

But I think as time goes on, as long as you establish that as a foundational requirement for a GTM organization, the enablement is going to play an inherent role in everything that we do, and the people that we promote into positions of leadership, we promote them because they are teachers, because they are mentors and because they believe in nurturing talent, then we’ll build the organization in the right way with the right people, and we’ll be able to give people a chance as we scale.

Who and what inspires Luke [30:06]

Sam Jacobs: That makes a lot of sense, and that’s inspiring. So kudos to you for embracing that ideology. We’re almost at the end of our short time together, Luke, but this is the part of the conversation. You’ve mentioned Jeremy Duggan before, but there’s probably a variety of other people, books, podcasts, content, influencers, you can define it in any way that you would like to. When you think about the people that you think we should know about, or the books that we should know about or the ideas that we should know about what comes to mind, what can you point us towards?

Luke Rogers: I loved reading Elon Musk’s autobiography by Ashlee Vance, just because Elon Musk doesn’t give a fuck, and I love that about him. And I think there should be more people in the world like Elon Musk.

Sam Jacobs: That’s the right amount.

Luke Rogers: I just love it. If there were a few more crazy billionaires like Elon, the world would be a very different and hopefully a better place, especially given his interest in green technology and having been a proud Tesla owner, I do subscribe to the Elon fan club. There’s also interesting people that I’ve met along my way, that have trained me. A gentleman called Mike Rognlien, he runs Multiple Hats Consulting. He was the head of people development at Facebook. So he spent his entire career from the very early days of Mark and Cheryl, essentially coaching young, early-in-career talent at Facebook, to be the best that there could be. And he’s been a very important influencing factor in the later half of my career here.

Podcasts, everyone’s got to unwind as well. And I always had a deep fascination, obviously with Sales Hackers, Sam, but the Serial Podcast and season one in particular, if no one’s listened to that or people haven’t heard that, it was absolutely brilliant.

Sam Jacobs: Luke, it sounds like Instabase is growing, is on fire, is already a unicorn in evaluation perspective, now it’s time to become a unicorn from a revenue perspective. And I’m sure that you’re hiring as you look to build your team. If people are listening and they want to reach out to you, are you okay with that, and do you have a preferred channel through which they should communicate?

Luke Rogers: LinkedIn. I think it’s my go-to, one of the tabs I always have open in my Chrome browser is LinkedIn, but I think people who obviously take pride in keeping their profile up-to-date, that helps. [email protected], always a good way to get me, but I would love anyone to reach out, and especially for a job, but also if they just want to get to know me and be in my network, I am always looking to grow that network, especially with other like-minded leaders who believe in the same sort of cause that I do. I would be thrilled to meet anyone that wants to talk. And obviously, being a proud member of the Revenue Collective, if anyone’s in there, please just send me a message. I’m on Slack.

Sam’s Corner [34:03]

Sam Jacobs: Hey folks, Sam’s Corner. I’m going to give you some food for thought. Once your thought eats the food, you’ll have more energy to think more thoughts. I guess that’s where that comes from. Anyway, I really enjoyed that conversation with Luke Rogers, and I think you can tell when you’re talking to those special people, those people that just take a differentiated approach to life and want something for their lives. Luke has already done great things, but you know I think will achieve his goals, whatever those goals are. He didn’t articulate them to me, but he’s got that way of approaching life, systematic discipline but still with novelty. He’s looking for interesting experiences, interesting people, interesting ideas.

This is all me just extrapolating based on that conversation, but he just seems like a good person and somebody that really takes achievement and accomplishment in the short time that we have on this planet seriously, which I think we should, because as I just said, it’s a short time that we’re here and we can spend it on the couch or we could spend it accomplishing things. In the age of technology, I suppose you can accomplish things from the couch. So it’s not really where you’re sitting, it’s about your mindset.

Now, a couple of things that Luke mentioned, the first is the biggest takeaway. Experience is clouding our ability to hire great people, and it’s reinforcing stereotypes. If you’re looking for people with experience and all the people with experience are middle-class white people, then you’re only going to constantly hire middle-class white people. And if you’re trying to build diversity, if you believe that diversity makes great teams and helps you perform at an elite level, and you’re going to have to deprioritize experience and focus on qualities.

And then you’re going to have to focus on an interview process that allows you to identify those qualities and Luke talks about how you read somebody’s resume in a differentiated way. Don’t just look at the fact that they worked at Oracle or Cisco or Microsoft for five years, look at what else they do in their lives. Have they achieved something great? Have they overcome some great adversity? And also, you’re going to have to ask differentiated or interesting questions, and you’re going to have to solve for intelligence and aptitude and capability and potential, more than you solve for just pure resume-driven experience, and I think that that’s powerful advice.

I am the beneficiary of that approach. I joined Gerson Lehrman Group as a young whippersnapper with not a very good resume and I rose up quickly and I didn’t have the experience, but people gave me an opportunity when they saw what I was capable of. And similarly, with other of my friends at Gerson Lehrman Group, including frankly, the CEO Alexander Saint-Amand, but also Jim Sharp, the now CEO of Aventri, James Yockey, the CEO of Landdox, these are all my friends and they’re all people that are on the younger side at the time that they were rising up, but they had that capability, they had that entrepreneurial mindset.

So I guess the number one thing I would say about Luke’s conversation and Luke’s thoughts is I agree with him. Deprioritize experience because experience can be misleading. I think the other thing that we need to be thinking about is if that’s true and particularly if we’re in a remote world where people are distributed all over the world, we’ve got to emphasize and prioritize constant and ongoing sales readiness and sales training. You’ve got to enable your teams, and this is something I have not been great at, but you’ve got to find a way we’re not all sitting next to each other, we’re not at the water cooler or in the cafeteria, or going to PREC for a sandwich, as Sam Southern would say, a mediocre sandwich, but a sandwich nonetheless, and maybe one of their little granola apple cinnamon, yogurt things. Those are always really good, where you walk there with your coworker and you’re talking about what you’ve learned. You’re talking about experiences. We don’t have the socialization opportunities to absorb tacit knowledge.

So you’re going to need tools, technology, and systems, systems, and a process for teaching and training people in an effective way. And especially, you’re going to need to do that if you’re intentionally going out and hiring people that don’t have exactly the right experience. So those are my thoughts. I really liked the conversation with Luke and hopefully, you got something out of it.

Don’t miss episode #140

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And without further ado, I will talk to you next time.

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