Who else but my old friend Jim Milbery, a founding partner at ParkerGale, could come up with a podcast called the Private Equity Funcast, complete with its own jingle and with a Thunderbirds-inspired opening?
Jim and I worked together at Ingres back in the — well “pre-Chernobyl” as Jim likes to put it. When we met, he was a pre-sales engineer and I was a technical support rep. We’ve each spent over 25 years in enterprise software, in mixed roles that involve both technology and sales & marketing (S&M). Jim went on to write a great book, Making the Technical Sale. I went on to create Kellblog. He’s spent most of his recent career in private equity (PE) land; I’ve spent most of mine in venture capital (VC) land.
With a little more time on my hands these days, I had the chance to re-connect with Jim so when I was in Chicago recently we sat down at ParkerGale’s “intergalactic headquarters” for a pretty broad-ranging conversation about a recent blog post I wrote (Things to Avoid in Selecting an Executive Job at a Startup) along with a lot of banter about the differences between PE-land and VC-land.
Unlike most podcasts, which tend to be either lectures or interviews, this was a real conversation and a fun one. While I’m not sure I like the misparsing potential of their chosen title, Things To Avoid in Selecting an Executive Job with Dave Kellogg, I’ll assume the best. Topics we covered during the fifty-minute conversation:
- The pros and cons of CEOs who want to get the band back together.
- Pros and cons of hiring people who have only worked at big, successful companies and/or who have only sailed in fair weather.
- The downsides of joining a company that immediately needs to raise money.
- How CMOs should avoid the tendency to measure their importance by the size of their budget.
- Should companies hire those who “stretch down” or those who “punch above their weight”?
- The importance of key internal customer relationships (e.g., the number-one cause of death for the CMO is the CRO) and how that should affect the order of your hires when building a team.
- Feature-addicted founders and product managers (PMs), technical debt, and the importance of “Trust Releases.”
- Pivoting vs. “traveling” when it comes to startup strategy.
- The concept of Bowling Alleys within Bowling Alleys, which we both seem to have invented in parallel. (Freaky.)
- The difference between knocking down adjacent markets (i.e., “bowling pins”) and pivots.
- Corporate amnesia as companies grow and surprisingly fail at things they used to know how to do (e.g., they forget how to launch new products).
- My concept of reps opening new markets with only a telephone, a machete, and a low quota.
- My pet peeve #7: salespeople who say it’s impossible to sell into an industry where the founders managed already to land 3-5 customers.
- The difference between, in Geoffrey Moore terms, gorillas and chimps.
- How there are riches in the niches when it comes market focus.
- How feature differentiation can end up a painful axe battle between vendors.
- Thoughts on working for first-time, non-founder CEOs in both the PE and VC context.
- The difference between approval and accountability, both in formulating and executing the plan.
Here are some other episodes of the Private Equity Funcast that I found interesting:
- Interview with Len Finkle, CEO of Profisee
- The Evolving Role of the Operating Partner with Jay Barlett
- Scoping Market Due Diligence with Parthenon/EY – Part I and Part II
Thanks for having me on the show, Jim, and it was a pleasure speaking with you.