Episode 29: Jascha Kaykas-Wolff and Erich Ziegler

In our 29th episode, Olivier L’Abbé, President at Metadata, talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the customer data platform and continuous integration categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, President of Lytics and leader behind the customer data platform category
  • Erich Ziegler, CMO of CircleCI and leader behind the continuous integration category

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of leadership, decision-making, and analyst relationships.

Takeaway 1. Always have confidence in your vision

Creating a new category is challenging for many leaders because it involves venturing into the unknown. There are no guarantees of success, and you’ll have to spend a lot of time testing different ideas until you finally find something that works. It’s not easy by any means. But if you have confidence in your vision, you’ll be able to stick it out, even when things become challenging.

So how can you tell when you’re headed in the right direction? And how do you get your entire team to follow your vision when there’s a lot of uncertainty? The answer to both those questions is to listen to what your customers have to say. Involve them along every step of your journey to becoming a category creator.

As we’ve covered in previous episodes, your customers are the best product development and marketing feedback source. You should seek qualitative feedback to understand how customers describe your product and combine that with your quantitative data to know if things are working.

Takeaway 2. Know your numbers but don’t be blinded by them

Using data increases your decision-making confidence. But it’s easy to become over-reliant on your numbers and overlook the importance of your personal experience when making decisions. Your data shouldn’t replace your institution as a leader. It should be used as a tool to help you think more accurately about the problems you’re trying to solve.

Decisions often need to be changed frequently in the early stages of growing a start up. That’s normal when you have a small team. But as your company scales, changing your mind too quickly can also cause your team to readjust its processes too many times, reducing productivity and making it harder to scale.

Relying too much on short-term lead math can cause you to change your mind often if you’re not careful. That’s why understanding the context around your data is essential. Without factoring in contexts such as recent changes in the market, your team, or new processes, you could end up over-correcting your decisions.

Takeaway 3. Take your time when building relationships with analysts

Another area where you shouldn’t rush is your relationships with analysts. There are no shortcuts here. Creating a new category takes several years, and so does building a relationship with analysts. Think of it as forming a friendship. You have to get to know the person first, find out what you have in common, and become friends over time.

Your analyst relationships need to be mutually beneficial for them to be successful. Analysts are people at the end of the day, and they appreciate it when you take time to learn about the kind of space they’re covering. Show genuine interest in the different industry trends taking place. And proactively share any insights that you find.

By developing your relationships with the analyst community, you will increase your chances of being mentioned in industry reports. These reports are what executives at enterprises use to decide what products to buy. They can transform you from being an unknown product to a credible leader in your category.

If you’re interested in more insights on analyst relationships, decision making, and leading with confidence, be sure to listen to this episode of category creators.


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