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The new muscles for modern marketers are critically important for marketers to be talking about, especially as AI technologies are quickly changing the playbook as we know it. So, we brought the marketing community together to discuss what leadership skills are most essential for the future.

Adaptability, clarity, courage, and empathy are leadership qualities top of mind for panelists:

  • Chris Koehler, the CMO at Box
  • Chrissy Anderson, the VP of Strategic Planning & Operations at Intercom
  • Nii Mantse Addy, the CMO at Philo
  • Santi Pochat, the VP of Brand at LinkedIn
  • Terry Seitz, the VP of North America Marketing at Visa

In their conversation at the MTM Forum hosted at Box’s Headquarters in San Francisco on April 3rd, 2024, they discuss real business examples and practices they are using to strengthen their teams and grow their careers. Watch, stream, or read the recap to get a deep view into how they are practicing these skills and encouraging their teams to do the same.

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Strengthen Your Leadership Skills to be a Modern Marketer

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In this article, we’ve summarized the three necessary leadership muscles of the future: adaptability, clarity, and courage. Below, you’ll find tips and practical use cases the panelists are practicing in their day-to-day as they embrace AI, navigate an overly saturated market, and take the lead in their careers.

#1 ) Adaptability: Understanding AI’s Impact on Your Business

Reinforce job security.

Chris Koehler: AI is a multiplier of our work and not just an efficiency gain. As leaders, we must reinforce that doesn’t mean we need less people, but instead, we can do better work. It is essential that we communicate this message effectively, so our teams understand AI is not only about efficiency but making an impact.

Change, but remember who you are.

Santi Pochat: At LinkedIn, we have a great conviction to lean into the things that AI cannot replace. We often talk about IQ versus EQ, wherein a certain level of humanity is needed along with the use of AI to achieve our ambitions. Personally, I like to think of AI as an enhancer and not a standalone value proposition. Your existing value proposition should always be your priority. If you shift your entire focus towards AI, it can introduce an element of risk since it is still a very new technology, and its implementation is not always clear.

Get used to a new tempo.

Chrissy Anderson: In my role of leading strategic planning and operations at Intercom, launching an AI-first chatbot—Finn—has fundamentally altered the entire product roadmap to serve customers, customer service agents, and managers. It has been disruptive and transformational. We have had to become more scrappy, nimble, and agile to meet the company’s needs and evolve alongside the market. This has meant transitioning to quarterly planning instead of an annual cycle, which can be messy and complicated and requires a lot of reprioritization, communication, and alignment efforts.

Hold caution and optimism in both hands.

Terry Seitz: At Visa, AI is at the core of what we’ve been doing for 30 years on the business side; we’ve been using machine learning and algorithms to make faster, better, more predictive decisions about solitary transactions. On the marketing side, we are heavily regulated and hold a lot of personal data, so we have to take a careful and measured approach. Although we are not required to meet any quotas, management has asked us to try a certain number of opportunities by the end of the year and report back. Currently, we are testing and learning on ChatGPT and copilot for the market, but we are being cautious and optimistic about what we do.

Expect more and set new standards.

Nii Mantse Addy: There’s an AI application in pretty much anything you do. We are moving from the honeymoon phase to figuring out how we are going to make this work: there are risks, ethics issues, legal issues, change management and operational structuring, etc. So, how do we make this a business imperative that drives the outcomes we want? With AI, we can start to expect more from teams. You may see changes in your metrics as now we have a multiplier that can be used.

Build the sandbox for your team to explore.

Santi Pochat: We quickly limited the use cases. Instead of looking for the least risky options, we focused on identifying areas with high potential and the type of risks we were willing to take. We weighed the pros and cons, including cost-benefit analysis and the opportunity costs. We then approved the use cases while also limiting the number of partners and technologies involved. It was important to us to get in front of AI’s risks to avoid spinning out.

Nii Mantse Addy: As an executive team, we got together with our teams and asked what’s most relevant. We imagined ways we could use it that are useful. Starting with high-level guard rails, we created boundaries for where they can play safely to get started, and then, as more use cases arise, give them permission to go outside of that sandbox and get those ideas approved.

#2) Clarity: Insight-based Marketing that Breaks through Today’s ‘Noise’

Know your haters to get clear on who you serve.

Nii Mantse Addy: Zag where people zig. It’s tempting to appeal to everybody, but start with who doesn’t like you because then you can know who you will serve well. With AI tools and all the data at hand, you can get advanced with your segmentation and customer analysis to understand what type of lifestyle elements you can plug in that tell you where to find your people, how to talk to them, and how you should relate to them.

Prioritize relevance over quantity of content.

Terry Seitz: Don’t contribute to the noise. We are all programmed to try to generate and attract as much attention as possible. That’s not the end goal. How do we become more disciplined to make a lasting impression over time? For Visa, our biggest brand KPI is relevance. We think about it from a category and cultural perspective and at the same time, are trying to find the balance from an attention and signal perspective.

Chris Koehler: The natural inclination is more cowbell. We are super guilty as marketers to go super heavy on digital. With AI, how do we protect ourselves from ourselves? The risk we run with AI is more capability to create more content, which could add to the noise and make things even worse. The challenge will be having restraint as marketers and making our content.

Santi Pochat: It’s not just about restraint; it’s about doing the right thing and nothing more. Therefore, it is having restraint with purpose. As marketers, we are often motivated to focus on our output and volume. We feel the need to be constantly visible. However, it’s essential to comprehend what is crucial to the business, your team, and your manager. It’s also vital to understand the individual and personal objectives of your colleagues.

Understand what drives people.

Nii Mantse Addy: Emotional intelligence is undervalued, but it’s becoming more prominent. In business, it’s all about influence. The best influence is mutual, where you can understand the drivers, constraints, and stressors of others and filter what you’re trying to do through their lens.

Rewrite and reflect on your brand identity.

Santi Pochat: Knowing our audience is essential, but knowing ourselves is equally vital. Rewriting and reflecting on the core of our identity can make a significant impact. Going back to basics can help us understand who we are and what we stand for. In today’s world, our identity matters more than ever, as it’s how we attract people to us.

Use deep objective listening more than performative listening.

Terry Seitz: Deep objective listening helps to eliminate unconscious biases and assumptions. Good listening skills can unlock potential and choices, similar to what AI represents. Although it may sound cliché, if done correctly, it can help you understand what the C-suite desires, as well as what your customers and consumers require.

Be confident of what you know and honest about what you don’t know.

Chris Koehler: Be willing to take risks and fail fast. Don’t be afraid to ask for help—this is a sign of strength. If you don’t know the answer. Don’t BS. If you do that, it breaks trust. Just say, “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you.”

#3) Courage: Taking Lead of Your Career

Market your transferrable skills, prove your strengths, and raise your hand.       

Chrissy Anderson: About two years ago, I made a significant pivot from B2C to B2B. I had to be descriptive about what I thought was transferable from my experience into these new contexts and what my learning areas would need to be, even if that meant initially taking on a smaller scope to get where I am today and raising my hand when I noticed a gap in leadership.

Lean into your passions and share them with your boss.

Nii Mantse Addy: I recently came back from parental leave and had some time for existential reflection. The first thing I did when I got back was to tell my boss more about my “why”. I want to be a great marketer, inspire others, and break glass ceilings. I told him what I am trying to achieve in life and what I need help with. He was supportive and mentioned that there’s an opportunity for me to get more into general management. Without tapping into my passions and discussing them with my boss, I would have never realized this opportunity.

Have ambition, but don’t expect the perfect job.

Santi Pochat: There’s no such thing as a perfect job. Even if you are seeking upward mobility, there are several pitfalls that come with getting promoted that people do not talk about. Therefore, taking the time to figure out what is driving you to the next thing or what is making you antsy about your current role can be immensely helpful. This has been my experience as someone who did not know anyone and did not really know what they were doing as a 1st generation immigrant with no education in marketing.

Do the messy job that management wants to be done.

Terry Seitz: Have perspective of what will make the most impact. Take the job that’s messy and complex but ultimately attached to what management wants to get done.

Don’t shy away from the work that lights you up.

Chris Koehler: After about a year, our previous Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) left, and I quickly realized that even though I had not been a practitioner in marketing for almost 11 to 12 years, marketing is ultimately what drives me. So, I raised my hand to the leadership team and expressed my interest in the CMO position. I knew that I had only been with the company for just over a year, but I explained the reasons why I wanted to take on the role and walked them through my thought process. Sometimes, you have to take the lateral moves to realize what you like and build the base for what’s next for you.

Meet The Visionaries

Chris Koehler, CMO at Box: Chris has 25 years of experience leading marketing, sales, and product teams in start-up and large enterprise environments. He specializes in growing and scaling new products and businesses and is passionate about marketing, analytics, digital trends, and building high-performing teams. Chris’ impressive professional accomplishments include leading the best cross-functional strategic project in Box’s 14-year history, launching a program that increased Annual Contract Value by 3x, and driving the company’s social media presence through the roof. Before leading marketing at Box, Chris led market and product marketing for Adobe Creative Cloud for Enterprise.

Chrissy Anderson, VP Strategic Planning & Operations at Intercom: Chrissy is the Vice President of Strategic Planning & Operations at Intercom, the AI-powered customer service platform. She has led transformational programs and strategic initiatives for some of the most recognized global technology and consumer brands, including Amazon, Whole Foods, Walmart, and The Honest Company. Chrissy lives in Marin with her husband, Tommy, and her three children. She is a graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in Public Policy and received her MBA from MIT Sloan. 

Nii Mantse Addy, CMO at Philo: Since joining the company in 2017, Nii has helped launch the service and steward Philo’s explosive growth, leading Philo to more than double its subscriber base, year-over-year, for three consecutive years in the highly competitive streaming industry. Nii has a demonstrated track record of scaling tech businesses and products during his well-rounded career across strategy consulting for Fortune 200 companies and investment banking. Prior to Philo, Nii pioneered an international streaming video business (Australia, Americas, Europe, and India) as head of marketing for a division of Comcast. As a strategy consultant with Deloitte, Nii focused on helping tech businesses capture the small-and-medium sized business (SMB) market. His purview spanned companies including Adobe, Ebay, and Paypal.

Santi Pochat, VP of Brand at LinkedIn: Santi is the VP of Brand Marketing at LinkedIn, where he leads a team that aims to make LinkedIn a more approachable, relatable, and meaningful brand for their members and customers. He joined from Google where he was the Head of Brand Marketing for Policy, and its Social Lab. He previously has helped companies like Unilever, Verizon and Facebook achieve success through his experience in digital marketing and integrated marketing at Edelman where he also led the Samsung US Digital business. His work has been awarded 9 Cannes Lions and the first ever Tribeca Film Festival “X Award” amongst others.

Terry Seitz, VP of North America Marketing at Visa: A marketing veteran with/ 20+ years of experience creating programs and solutions for brands across the Consumer Decision Journey. His SME is to fix and/or build global go-to-market processes, advertising and cross functional relationships that improve brand health and profitability. Having just celebrated his 11th year at Visa, his current remit includes Brand (NFL, Olympics, FIFA/World Cup and fortifying our equity among A18-34), Digital Products/Solutions and Cross Border lines of business. Prior to Visa, he spent over a decade at venerable NYC based advertising agencies in executive leadership, account management and planning roles servicing iconic brands including HBO, Chase, Coca-Cola, J&J, GSK, Sotheby’s, Major League Baseball and Chase.

Moderated by: Kathy Hollenhorst, MTM Advisor & Chief Community Officer: Known as an intrapreneur who drives growth and excels at building the ‘next new thing,’ Minneapolis-based Kathy Hollenhorst is a long-time CMO, executive leader, and business coach. Kathy was CMO at Caribou Coffee and built a digital/consumer engagement division for Carlson—a $4B hospitality company expanding brands such as Seven Seas Cruises, TGIFridays, and Radisson hotels. She most recently owned/operated Creatis, a 150-person marketing services firm that became part of the 24 Seven family in 2021. As MTM Advisor & Chief Community Officer, Kathy is now leading the charge of building the ‘next new thing’ for the Marketers That Matter community.

Our parent company, 24 Seven, specializes in helping you find exceptional marketing and creative talent for your teams.