B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1652 · 4 months ago

A Culture of Learning with Lisa Cox

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Benji talks to Lisa Cox, Director of Marketing at Teak & Twine.

Today's conversation is all about instilling a culture of learning within your team. Exploring creative ways to do this through goal setting and special projects.

Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is be tob growth. Hello and welcome into be tob growth. I'm your host, Benjie Block. Today I am joined by Lisa Cox. Lisa, thank you for jumping on an episode of v Tob Growth with me. Yeah, thank you so much. I'm so excited about this, for sure. So let's give some context. You have a background in brand strategy. You have created your own ice cream company, which we will talk about some of that. That sounds like a fun adventure. And then here currently, you are Director of marketing at a company called teak and twine. Tell us a little bit quickly about about teak and twine and what you're doing right now. Yeah, so you know, teak and twine is a company that focuses on strategic corporate gifting. So it's gifting, but there's always a goal to it right. So our companies really figuring out like what makes a good gift for a sales team and warming up clients, versus what makes a good gift for like a virtual event, and so you know, there's all these components and strategy and all these extra layers the make these good just like way more impactful so as the director of marketing, it's really about figuring out all those stories. And the company itself used to be D Toc. So, like my task right now is really figuring out how to do this in a be to be way and make it effective. There's so much we can talk about there. I think D Toc and then be to be. I had a couple of those conversations recently where I there's some a lot of value in having views into both and how they can ...

...influence your marketing strategy when you've done both. So that's great. Well, today what we want to do is I want to talk about learning with you and we'll talk about it from several different angles, but let's start here. For you right now in your job, what's your favorite part of working at teak and twine right now, like what really gets you excited? Yeah, for sure. I mean, you know, just switching from D Toc to be to be means we're like doing everything in the play buck right, and so for me it's just really fun that there's constantly new projects we're experimenting. You know, one of our core values is spaghetti at the ball and it's my favorite core value, and that's exactly what we're doing and that keeps me excited. So I like Spaghetti at the wall. That is a fun way of just seeing what sticks, what you're just trying and experimenting and stilling that in your team. That obviously is going to help with products and what you release and what you do in the world, but it's also going to help internally and still that kind of cultural value. What, for you, has been maybe an influential resource in your career, something that you really carry with you, that you've learned? Yeah, I think the book that I'm obsessed with right now is the leadership challenge and, you know, coming into this role at taken twine, you know, I came in as the director, right, and so is leading a team and I was really focused, you know, on learning the skill of leadership. Right, I knew I couldn't manage people, I knew I could manage projects, but I was looking for a resource that kind of like the playbook of how to be a good leader, and this book has been the best one. Like it really has steps, it has stories, it's the most actionable resource I found and it's just helpful to remind myself that, like, leadership is a learned skill you know,...

I think there's this like perception that you're a born leader and I don't think that's true. Like you have to practice at it and work at it, and that book is Great. Is there one sort of thing that the book said that unlocked something for you or that you constantly go back to that you're like, man, this has really taken my leadership to a different level? Yeah, I think there's two, and one is just modeling the behavior, so being really intentional like what I want as a team, and it starts with me first, right. I can't just tell people what to do. I have to be really intentional about modeling and doing that myself first. And then the second one that I love. I think they call it show the heart, but I interpret that as like you have to show the impact of everyone's work, right, like you can't just say you're doing this project and good job. It really helps people feel motivated of like you did this project and now it helps us get here with pipeline and now we have this type of revenue and that keeps people really excited. And Yeah, just having that really kind of unlocked how I give feedback and motivate the team. I think in Bob I've noticed when it comes to showing the heart, that can get jaded a little bit where it just becomes number. So like we used to do at a previous company I worked for, we do like the queue one review and it was like a fun there was there was elements to it that I actually think we're done really well, but I noticed this tendency, once we got into like reviewing what each department was doing, that it was like very data driven and numbers driven, which is probably a lot more of a leaning and B Tob that you get to this this level of like, okay, our team did drive this data, but if it's not connected to...

...any sort of emotion or or person or like, how do we actually make an impact in the world, which be to be companies are making a huge impact in the world right I think there's a lot of room for improvement there. So I love that you you touched on that and think it's extremely vital and what the best way to do it. Learn that principle and then just apply it to your team and and that's that's wonderful. So that's great for you, Lisa. Do you think our books usually like where you do the most of your learning? And Self Education, or is it podcasts other like events? What do you lean towards? Yeah, I think it definitely depends. I do love a good book, but I'll admit for me it's all podcasts. Like my podcast library is very full. I think that just helps me digest the information. I can slowly, you know, absorb it. But what also helps is taking notes. So I have a giant list of podcast work notes and then I go back and like reflect on it and like, you know, put it into categories because, yeah, it's easy to take an information and when you just walk away from it, you're not gonna retain it. So I try to be good about going back to those podcasts and what I took from them. That's such a big part of it, because we can consume so much content that it could be really hard to actually remember, like what did I learn there, and like what, how do I apply it? Yeah, so you're you're taking what you've learned, you're applying it right. So then that is modeling, which we talked about earlier, modeling for your team to be a learner, and that's where we want to go with this conversation, is instilling that that learner mindset in your team and really championing that. So, because you're passionate about it, then how do you turn that into like a cultural thing in your current context? How do you think about your team being learners? Yeah, for sure. Yeah,...

...when I'm thinking about like having the team be learners, you know again from this book and where we were, you know, I'm taking a step back and like okay, so how am I going to do that as a leader, like how am I going to make the team leaders? And you know, I touched on this when I was brought onto the roll. Like the company was in this huge pivotal point, right, it was going from D Toc to be to be. We had really aggressive growth goals and the whole team was brand new. So there was just like all these things up in the air and seeing that, like I knew the way we were going to succeed was embracing learning, right, we had to be comfortable with experimenting, you know, trying all these things, seeing what's stuck. So for me, embracing this is actually, you know, a strategy to hit those goals and something that I'm always keeping top of mine to build h do you intentionally tell people to just try things because I have a tendency. I love trying and breaking things and remaking them and all that, like the evolution right of processes. But I notice in myself a tendency early on to just take in, you know, everything and not try and feel like I'm walking on eggshells a little bit. So you have a brand new team, right, and you're trying to instill this cultural value. How are you doing that? Yeah, I mean there's a few ways that we're, you know, instilling that. One really easy way is just in the goals, right, so we create quarterly rocks, same goals, you know, whatever company uses. Yeah, so I make sure that everyone at least has one or two gold that's focused on learning, right, so that's either a new skill or connecting with some other department and learning how they're running to like help them do their...

...job better. So when you have it in the goals, it's top of mind, right, like everyone wants to hit their goals at the end of the corner, and so you put it in there and it's clear that's a priority and that everyone is expected to work towards that. Yep. So give me an example of like how you would put a learning goal as like how many rocks do you guys have? Because I know different companies do different things. So if one or two of their goals are around learning, what is that goal actually look like? Yeah, so we have roughly four or five. So some are just as basic as like read this book, you know, read this user research book to help you have better conversations with customers. Or if you know, in the conversations with the people managing, if they're hesitant to do something new, I'm like, great, that is a goal. We are going to experiment with new ways to incorporate video into social media, let's say. So you know, it's about having a conversation with them and, like you said, like finding those eggshell type moments and pushing that to be one of those top goals. I like that. And obviously leadership is often reading a room right, like Oh, I notice when we talk about this there's a bit of hesitancy and now I can lean into that and help this person grow. And obviously you could push too hard or not. You don't want to do that, but there's a good way of helping someone achieve a goal that's then actually good for them personally and for your business. So there's a lot of pros to that. Give me an example of good, or maybe bad company culture around learning and growing, like what do you see that's good and or maybe a bad example? Yeah, for sure.

You know, when you're creating like a good culture around learning, I think what people forget sometimes is that you also have to create a culture where failing is okay. Right, they both have to happen together and you can't have you can have the good culture of learning without the other totally. And you know, obviously I'm a big believer of learning. You know, the team has like all this initiative, they're learning all these skills, but there's always a tradeoff and anything in life, and in this sense the tradeoff is, you know, either mistakes or unexpected outcomes. But I know it's going to happen, right, so, like I can prepare for how I'm going to react in those situations and from my part on my team, like, if I know this is going to happen, I'm not wasting any of my energy making anyone feel bad about it right like. That is not going to help anyone move forward. It's not going to help the team move forward. So that's how I'm making our team a safe space to fail, honestly. So I'm focusing on creating this culture of learning and I'm also spending just as much time figuring out how to make a safe space to fail. Nice. I forget who it was. Think someone that's like x military wrote a book or something. I don't know. We're gonna get the quote wrong, so we won't try to get it exact here. But the idea of either you win or you learn instead of win or lose, I think is a really valuable way to think of it. And in company culture where you're trying to promote learning, those moments where something doesn't go right and there's a failure of some kind, but you actually choose to have a moment where you're actively going, okay, what did we learn from this? Or I've heard this questions.

That was really good, like what could be good from this? Yeah, and when you push in and lean into that intentionally as a leader for your team, then they see like it's not just okay that you failed, but like there's some things that came out of this that will drastically impact the company for the better in the long run. Right, like because now we know several things that maybe didn't work or we shouldn't try again or whatever. But I actually identifying those because sometimes company culture goes to okay, we're not like mad at you, but we're also not talking about the failure right, like we're not going to actually go into why that happened and what could be better next time. And those are the conversations, of the crucial conversations that actually you gain momentum from failure potentially. So love that you're passionate about this learning right as a topic because I feel like it's such a true north for you and it's something you've leaned into for a long time. You've seen the win right from personal development and prioritizing that. So give me the origin story, we hinted at this earlier, of the ice cream company, and will dive into some of what you learned there, because I think it's a valuable just user case right in like championing being a learner. Yeah, for sure. So I actually started the first couple of years of my career designing running apparel. So there's all that I can talk about there. But in that role, you know, my my scope, in my focus was super well defined. Right, it was running. It was a peril I understood what my daytoday was and I just got to a point where I was looking to tackle more complex problems, right, just take on these issues that just had a little more effort to them. And friend of a friend of mine approached me and she wanted to launch a plant based ice cream company and was looking for...

...a creative partner and, you know, it was just the right point of where I was in my career. I had always loved food, you know, just like ticked all the boxes for me and just jumped straight into that, which was great. You know, we did that for a year and a half. You know, achieved a lot that I'm super proud of. You know, it was a premium food product and we still got into fifty retail accounts in a year. That's crazy. It is crazy. Yeah, but you know, in that experience, yes, I was transitioning from design into marketing and brand strategy and everything that goes into that, but in running a business, right, I got all this exposure to the other stuff. No, figuring out distribution, the inventory management, the production, you know, conversations with buyers and doing sales pitches like it was everything. And you know, when I tell people about that, experience, I always call it my real world MBA, which is extremely valuable to actually try something and you you're doing that for like a year plus and then you guys made it a conscious decision to to not go further with it, right. So talk about that part. Yeah, yeah, so we started this company and we had agreed, you know, from the get go that at a year and a half we were going to reflect and, you know, decide if we wanted to go forward. And at that point we're wearing multiple hats and, you know, we each identified what we love to do the Daytoday, which for me was brand strategy and marketing. But she and I weren't enjoying just all the other stuff, right, so I was doing operations and production and that's not my superpower, and so we just decided that that was the right time to close down so we could each pursue our passions, and that's when I...

...started freelancing and working for other small businesses and startups and this kind of brand strategy and marketing world. I love that you guys chose to say a year and a half in will reevaluate, because that's one it's just good from a learning perspective, like you could have chose, hey, we're just going to go deeper into this, we love everything we're doing and even though we're wearing like you know. I mean, they could have gone that way. You chose not to go that way, but you had that like we're going to reevaluate, and that's valuable. You look back and you've hit on some of these things already, as you've told this story. But choosing to okay, we're going to go and I'm going to go in a different direction. There's obviously clearly some that would look in and go, Oh, they tried an ice cream company and they failed. You obviously did not fail. There's so much that you learned in that. So I want you to just go into that. How it's your Real World Mba. So, like how did it make you a better marketer in the long run? Yeah, I think in that experience, you know, I was in charge of the brand side, but because I was involved in all the other aspects of business, I got to see the domino effects, right, I got to see how what I was doing on marketing affected other parts of the business. So now I approach things by going kind of just beyond the traditional definition of what a marketer should do. And it's actually funny at teak and twine our team internally we call ourselves the brand team, not the marketing team, and I love that because it keeps the definition the kind of loose, right, so we could kind of see where we have the skills and opportunity to do something and that's how we choose to tackle projects. So, like we just did a community feedback survey and the results, you know, obviously help us do better messaging and...

...better content, but we also like share that with the sales team, right, because that helps them do better pitches and have better conversations with clients. So you know, today, yes, I'm focusing on marketing, but I'm also looking for opportunities where our team and our team skills can have a positive impact on other areas of the business. So valuable as a marketer to have that insight into other areas of business. Like, cannot stress that enough, when you come out of a different even to a different silo within marketing, and then the world is just so big right. Business is very there's a lot of different categories and having more knowledge and per view into all of those things makes you a valuable asset to the team over all. So that's great. How do you use the knowledge you have from that year and a half and like try to inst still it in your team that maybe just has a more marketing mindset? I know you're taught. Can Brand makes it a little bit more broad like helps that probably a little bit. But if someone's coming out of like college or something and they're coming into a job where it's like I trained to be a marketer and now I'm a marketer, often they don't have that same type of view into the business as a whole. Right. So, like how do you try to activate that in people, get them thinking bigger than just their department? Yeah, well, I think an our specific team. I actually love this. Everyone on the team has a background that's not in marketing. So good. So, yeah, so when we take on a new project, I try to relate how their previous job experience applies to what we're doing in marketing today, and I think that just helps reframe how they can use those skills. So someone has a customer service background and when she's creating sales enablement content, right, I'm like you know what...

...people ask right, you know what people are going to come back with and like now you can preemptively address it and you know there's all these examples and marketing of how it's all interconnected and I think helping show that it connects to past experience and you're just constantly building on that really helps our team specifically. Yeah, it's that's a unique superpower that you have on your team. Specifically, let's go to how and just talk. How are you currently incentivizing learning? Right, so you said we put it as a rock. I like that idea. Is there anything else you're doing that? If someone's going, I want to start something in my team and really give like a little extra push? Anything you're trying right now to incentivize learning that you would tell people? Hey, try this? Yeah, for sure. I think one project that I'm super pumped about for this year is what I'm calling the yellow project. All right. So, yeah, so this is something that we created and kind of the gist of it is that everyone on the team is going to get twozeros to do something outside of their normal domain. HMM. And you know, this is an opportunity to like really find an opportunity out there in the marketing world and really plan for it and just totally run with it on their own. So they have a budget, and what are the parameters around that? least of like a what else? Because I think two thousand dollars is a good amount for you can do something with Twozero, but it's not so much that it's going to like break the company. What are the parameters around what you're kind of wanting them to try? Yeah, exactly, and you're so right. Right, it's two thousand dollars for that, that specific purpose. You know, I don't want to overwhelm anyone. This really is about an opportunity to show some career progression skills. So what I'm really...

...looking for is like budget management, finding the strategy, presenting the results and then, because we value learning, you know, it has to have some aspect that's outside of their normal domain, and I think that's a key parameter. Right, we're always doing experiments within each category, but this is really about pushing to think outside of that. But honestly, beyond that, there are no parameters. Like if someone says to me that they are going to, I don't know, sponsor a local basketball game or do this event, like if they have a reason and have a plan, like this is pure spaghetti at the wall, as long as you explain to the whole team why this is worth our time. I like that. Okay, Lisa, I give you two thousand dollars and I say all right, we're doing the yellow project. What what's an idea that comes to your head? What something you would want to try? Yeah, I think one thing that I've been thinking a lot about recently is community and events. We're in a very digital world right now. We're doing all these like webinars and digital events, but I think there's more that can be there and it you know, it's stems from also working at teak and twine. You know, I mentioned we do gifts and for a clients we're doing a lot of pairing, you know, a physical gift with a digital experience, and that is so much more impactful and there's so much good feedback, there's so much good data behind it. So I'm really curious, like how can we incorporate that physical plus digital component and community events? And that's what I've been thinking about recently. I like that. So you would host a in person event and if you have the money,...

...well, what type of event? Like? What road would you go down? What type of event would you want to create? Do you think? I think there's something really missing about just like ten people having a similar, let's say, job description and just learning from each other. Okay, I get a lot, you know, and these type of conversations one on one, and right now I just see a lot of webinars and virtual events where you only interact on a chat or you're just talking on Linkedin and dropping messages here and there. I think we're just missing, now more than ever, the one on one connection. So I really think the smaller the more impactful. Right now, it would be really cool to be able to host a live event with a twozero dollar budget, because you could do some cool stuff where you're not trying to appeal to the masses. It could be pretty hyper specific. It would be a UN unique thing that that group would remember. So that's fun. I like that idea beyond just the Yolo project, as we kind of start to wrap up here, if you're telling someone where to start with cultivating this learner spirit mentality and your team, anything you want to invite people to try. Last things that you would would say as we start to wrap her yeah, I think my advice, honestly, depends on what stage of your career you're in. So, if you're trying to start and you're an individual contributor, I constantly reference this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, which is follow your curiosity. And so, yeah, you just find something you're curious about and just follow that. Right. If you're interested, you're going to be so motivated you're going to show up every day and it's not going to feel like work. So just find something that interests you and just see where it leads. You don't really think about how it's going to apply...

...like that. I'll show up and show itself later. I will end with the story here because of something you just said, and then I'll give you a chance to talk there. But I want to I want to say to follow your curiosity. I'm literally in podcasting now because of that. Like I did not think this would ever be something I could just do full time and have these types of interesting conversations. I tore my Achilles one day and I didn't want to sit on my couch and do nothing for six months, so I started having conversations like this and fast forward five years and here we are. We're talking and this is like what I do for my life and it was following your curiosity. So I absolutely love that and you can instill that in the team. Yeah, and I think what's great about that is that if you had started like how do I make a career in podcasting, like you would have been so intimidated you would never have started. Yep, so, like that'll happen later. Just one step at a time, and the passion for conversation is what drives it to because I know there's a lot of people right under thirty five where like doing something like podcasting sounds so interesting, but it's not that you actually have a love for conversation, it's that you just kind of think podcasts are cool, whereas for me, it's like the opposite. I absolutely love conversation to the point where I just believe in the medium and like there is an endless curiosity right. So where I just I totally agree with what you're saying. Did you have one more thing you wanted to throw in here before we wrap? Yeah, I think if you're trying to start instilling this culture of curiosity and you're the manager or the leader, you know, going back to this book, it's about modeling the behavior and you know. I just wanted to share one way that I'm modeling that behavior is, honestly, if I don't know the answer, I'm saying that I don't know the answer to the team, but to follow it up, I'm showing how I learned the answer. So thank you. I don't know something and I end up googling it right I am sharing the best blog post I...

...found and which passage helped me. Or if I ask the question on a slack community, you know, I screenshot all the responses and share that with the team. So it's about showing them you know how easy it really can be to find these answers and that there's all these different ways that you can incorporate it. So you know it's follow your curiosity and if you're higher up, it's about modeling the behavior yourself first. I get a lot out of stuff from these these conversations, like a lot of learnings and a lot of things I end up taking notes on later, and the stuff I'm taking away from this conversation, I definitely think instilling a culture of learning something that you can do practically through rocks, something I'm going to remember after this conversation. The idea of the Yolo project. Obviously, listeners adapt that however you want, but as an idea I think it's really solid and and a fun opportunity to try and to give people more responsibility in a sense, with an amount of money that isn't going to kill you or break the bank. If you're telling someone what to do versus showing them, there is, you know, just different levels to leadership. Right. So if we can be leaders who teach other people how to be selfreliant, how to find answers on their own, that's extremely valuable. So I appreciate ending the conversation there. Lisa, great takeaways from today's conversation. If people want to stay connected to you and teak and twine, just give us real quick like. Where can they do that? How can they follow the work? Yeah, well, if you want to connect with me, Linkedin is the best place. Just shoot me a message. Also, Linkedin is great for teak and twine. We have some really funny content that literally makes me laugh out loud. So I love...

...it. Yeah, we're in the normal places, linkedin website. It's Takin twinecom perfect. Thank you so much for joining me here on BTB growth today, Lisa. Yeah, thank you so much, Benjy. Hey for everyone listening. If you are yet to subscribe to the show, be sure to do that on whatever platform you're listening to this on right now, so you never miss an episode. We'd love if you leave a rating or a review, and also you can connect with me over on Linkedin as well. Just search Benji block and would love to chat with you about business marketing, life, the podcast and yeah, shoot me a message there. Keep doing work that matters, and we'll be back real soon with another episode of B Tob Growth. If you enjoyed a day show, hit subscribe for more marketing goodness, and if you really enjoyed the day show, take a second to rate and review the podcast on the platform you're listening to it on right now. If you really really enjoyed this episode, share the love by texting it to a friend who would find it insightful. Thanks for listening and thanks for sharing.

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