With recent tailwinds sweeping up brands and accelerating maturity, companies have been stuck trying to drink from a firehose. Brian Balfour, CEO and founder of Reforge, joined us to discuss how to not waste that water and transform the unexpected gains into permanent benefits.
In Reforge, Brian has built a powerful learning platform for product managers and marketers. Reforge’s programs are designed to aid professionals through ambiguity, even including Reforge alumni, our host Matt Collins. The programs do this by teaching them to turn insights into actionable strategies for compounding growth, spearheading revenue increases, and driving scalable and effective acquisitions across multiple channels as popular outlets become congested.
The Fast Five
After every Simulmedia Live episode we detail the five more captivating minutes of the show that you need to hear. If you missed the show, we’ve got you covered with the essentials.
Here are your Fast Five.
1. Use your tailwinds to pick up speed.
Companies who have seen rapid, unexpected growth during recent months have acquired audiences that wouldn’t have been reached for another two to three years. Brian says this growth is like trying to drink out of a firehose. You need to gulp as much as you can and if some spills, figure out how to store and use to your advantage in the future.
2. Don’t spread your peanut butter too evenly.
Brian describes leverage as if it were a sandwich staple: You need to invest more in areas where your skills are in low supply and high demand. If you spread yourself too flat, you risk missing out on leverage and opportunities.
3. “The credential is not the end; it’s the beginning.”
Brian affirms that while earning a badge is a resume bonus, the skills that the badge represents should speak for themselves. You, like any company, need to be identifying how to accelerate growth and not fixate on what badge you’ll earn next in your career.
We couldn’t get to all of the live audience questions so Brian took the time to answer these last questions after the show.
Question: For a student who is currently interviewing for finance/marketing positions, what questions would you suggest asking to figure out how the decisions get made in the company, what their processes are, and what their core environment (culture) is like? It is incredibly hard to get honest responses and I would appreciate your insight into how to truly understand if you are a fit for a certain company.
Answer: The challenge here being new to the professional world is you are still figuring out yourself and where you thrive best. You might think you know, but very unlikely that you do. I certainly didn’t when I was first starting out :)
So in this situation, you should optimize for the manager above all else. They will help you learn the craft, the company, and most importantly help you learn about yourself. You get better at knowing what you want and how to evaluate it throughout your career.
So to evaluate a manager, it is understanding how they have helped people become better. You can’t ask “how have you helped someone get better?” You need to ask things like “Who on your team that you’ve managed has been promoted internally or externally? How did you help them get that promotion? What specific problem did you help them get better at? How?” When you force people to answer the question in the context of a real story, it’s harder to give a canned answer.
You should then follow up and see if that story is real. Look on LinkedIn, did that person actually get promoted. Reach out to them and ask how it was working with them.
These all might sound like uncomfortable things because they aren’t typical. But that’s the point. You are making a massive decision. Putting your eggs in one basket. If a company doesn’t understand that, then that’s a company you don’t want to work for.
Question: Describe a problem you’ve been trying to solve in their career but haven’t yet, and what you’ve learned along the way.
Answer: “Balancing” work and life. I have an all or nothing mentality. I put balance in quotes because I’m not convinced balance is the right term or even achievable. I think the mix is different for everyone, but I certainly haven’t uncovered the “optimal” mix for me, even if there is one. I’ve read tons on the subject, then I dig into the people giving advice on it, and they are rarely following their own advice. It is a topic that most professionals will face at more than one point in their career.
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