Ops Cast

Marketing Ops Career Advice from Vivi Gehan

July 10, 2023 Michael Hartmann, Mike Rizzo, Vivi Gehan Season 1 Episode 93
Ops Cast
Marketing Ops Career Advice from Vivi Gehan
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we discuss Vivi Gehan's interesting career journey to Marketing Ops.  Vivi is currently Vice President of Operations with Digital Pi (a part of Merkle). Prior to that, she held several other roles in Marketing and Marketing Ops, both in-house and with consultancies, including LeadMD. She is also a member of Mensa!

Tune in to hear - 
-  Vivi's transition from doing events to ending up in Marketing Ops. 
-  Challenges she faced during her transition from in-house marketing to consulting. 
-  Some key transitions, or people,  along the way that had a major impact on her career journey. 
- How Vivi thinks about the skills she gained from past positions and applied those transferable skills for getting and succeeding in new roles.


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Michael Hartmann:

Here we go. Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of OpsCast brought to you by MarketingOps.com powered by the MO Pros. I'm your host, Michael Hartmann joined today by. Once again, just one co host, Mike Rizzo, but hopefully that will change here in the near future. Mike, lots going on these days, right? There is a lot going

Mike Rizzo:

on. Everybody's shifting, you know, the whole ecosystem of MarTech is crazy right now. And then, you know, we've all got clients and people are busy growing their families, but it's good. It's all good things. They're all good problems, except for the tech sector stuff. That's probably

Michael Hartmann:

not a good problem. We should probably talk about that. Anyway, another, another, another topic for another night. Maybe next, our next call. How about that? Um, all right, well, let's get this party started. So joining us today to discuss her interesting, maybe unusual career journey to marketing ops and really business ops is Vivi Gehan. Vivi is currently vice President of Operations with Digital Pi. A part of Merkle now, uh, prior to that, she held several other roles in marketing and marketing ops, both in house and with consultancies, including lead MD as well as others. And this is something I found out when I was researching for this today is she's also a member of Mensa. So Vivi, welcome. And thanks for joining us today.

Vivi Gehan:

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm delighted to be here.

Michael Hartmann:

All right. So, uh, so now I'm going to have to ask you about this, right? Like, cause I'm feeling intimidated about the Mensa membership. Uh, I don't even know if all of our audience will know what that is, but just like, I'm, now I'm curious, like, what does it take to even get in there other than a big brain?

Vivi Gehan:

Uh, to just, honestly, I think to be able to test well, um, it's, it's literally just, you just go take a test and it's, you know, it's almost like sort of a, A beefy SAT it felt like, you know, they're sort of, they're, they're, but they're tricky like math questions, language questions, puzzles, logic, the end was the adjudicator like reads a, um, a prompt, you know, if a couple paragraphs and then you answer questions based on detail and recall and, and stuff and it's, um, I don't know, it's pretty, it's, Don't, don't be intimidated. I'm just a total nerd and, you know, big brain or not, uh, you know, to, to put it into perspective, I accidentally, uh, the other couple of weeks ago, um, sent somebody, uh, an email inviting him to sign a surprise e card for his own retirement. So, you know, yes, yes. And I was like, Hey, you can just disregard that email. Pretend I didn't send it. Um, so, you know, don't, don't be too intimidated. And actually I, I'm, I'm feeling a little bit, uh, in, you know, I was awestruck being in the presence of two mop celebrities.

Michael Hartmann:

So mop celebrities. Wow. That's very neat. That's very niche, right?

Mike Rizzo:

Very flattering, uh, but I love that you had your own moops that you just got to do.

Vivi Gehan:

Oh yeah, I have a lot more. I have a lot more.

Michael Hartmann:

That's awesome. Alright, well, so let's dive in. We haven't actually had one of these kind of, uh, episodes in a while, I think, where we've talked to somebody, um, cause we had several. Maybe not right in a row, but several in a relatively short span of time on, but I guess it's so hard to say this like a year ago, um, where we had people kind of just walking through their, their career journey. And, um, it was always fascinating to hear people's path to, to marketing ops. Things be in between and before and after. So let's dive into that. I mean, so what I remember from our original conversation is really, you started out in marketing, doing events and creative, and then somehow moved to marketing ops so that the details are not. In my mind, but, um, why don't we just start there? Like you talk about your early experiences and that, like how you transitioned into marketing ops.

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah, absolutely. I feel like everything in my career has sort of been serendipitous, kind of an organic evolution, things kind of. feel they've always felt like they've sort of fallen in my lap a little bit. Um, I, it started supporting sort of marketing and sales, you know, doing, um, uh, vertical response, constant contact sales force, um, you know, events, trade shows, working with the PR team, sort of all your typical broad. Um, marketing and a little bit of, um, sales ops support. Um, and then I moved to a company in 2009 who had just implemented Marketo. I'd never heard of it. My only experience, like I said, had been, you know, a little bit of exposure to very, very rudimentary, you know, email. And so I, you know, I was given a sort of handed a new Marketo instance. And, um, so it was really, really nascent at the time, right? This was, I could call support the one support rep knew who I was like, Hey, VV, how's it going on? What do you need today? Um, programs didn't exist. Smart lists didn't have the ability to have advanced logic. You could only do and. Or, or in a single, um, smart list. So there was a lot of mental gymnastics you had to do to kind of mash a bunch of smart lists together to get some detailed logic going and stuff like that. So it's really early. And I had a, I had no idea at the time that, you know, I was sort of getting to have early access and early exposure to, um, what was going to be a pretty, pretty remarkable, um, uh, marketing operations platform. And so, uh, then I joined another company who, uh, by chance had just also kicked off their Marketo implementation and they were sort of, uh, flabbergasted that I not only knew what Marketo was, but that I knew how to use it and I'd been using it, you know, at another company. So I was lucky again to kind of come in at the ground level there, build it out, you know, grow the instance with, with the company, um, you know, continue to be early adopters of new features. Like we were one of the first RCA customers or whatever you want to call it now, it's been rebranded a hundred times, uh, Revenue Cycle Analytics. Ah, yes. Yes, Revenue Cycle cobwebs,

Michael Hartmann:

so I had to clear them out.

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah. Yeah. Uh, Uh, programs were launched while I was there. Um, it took a while to wrap my head around, actually, to be honest, a little bit. They're, they're a little complex at first because they were so new, right? They were so novel. Um, and then, yeah, and then I just continued to, to, you know, to wrap my arms around the, the world of Marketo, uh, marketing ops and where it plays in the tech stack, right, with Salesforce and all of

Michael Hartmann:

that. I want to go back. You said that, um, you did a little bit of sales ops. You said that was like a throw in line there, I think. But I'm curious, like, like, what did, what did that entail? Because you were, you were in marketing, but you were, I assume you were doing something in Salesforce or something like Salesforce. Okay. Yep.

Vivi Gehan:

Salesforce. So, you know, way back when vertical response, um, constant contact, those kind of, you know, there was obviously no direct integration into Salesforce. And so doing a lot of, you know, um. Manual data entry from trade shows, you know, uh, business cards and that hasn't

Michael Hartmann:

really changed all that.

Vivi Gehan:

No, it was the worst. I remember getting a business card scanner and being like, wow, we are, you know, we're so advanced. Um, and then, you know, uploading lists, exporting lists, for, you know, email, um, targeting stuff like that. Um, helping with a little bit of, you know, data management in the Salesforce side, cause that was the only system we didn't really, I mean, you can't call vertical response, I guess, system of record in any way, right. It was just a repository for, for email sends. So Salesforce was the system of record. Um, so doing a lot of data management and maintenance there, um, just to kind of support the whole, the whole business

Michael Hartmann:

really. And was your, was your background in. Like, like education, was it more in marketing and creative stuff? Or was it a little, did it lean a little more towards, I think with probably like the geek stuff, right?

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah. Um, so my formal education is in psychology. So take that as you will. Cause that can apply. Yeah, yeah, I know. So I've got you, I've got you, I've got your number.

Michael Hartmann:

We're being analyzed, Mike.

Vivi Gehan:

I no, but you know, I remember back in school, you know, I was really, you know, math was, math came really easy, science came really easy. Um, I liked it because the answers were right or wrong, right? You know, there was no, uh, ambiguity or, or subjectivity, um, in, in sort of the way that you study math and science, so.

Michael Hartmann:

Well, I would tend to agree with you, except that I've got three teenagers who like the way they're being taught some of these things. I'm like, I have no idea how that works. I have heard.

Vivi Gehan:

I'm dreading that. I am dreading

Michael Hartmann:

that. Yeah. I will, I will, I was, I will say though, like the, um, when you were describing all those things, like it's like all this manual stuff and then you were able to do programs that it was like, You know, eliminated a lot of work and I, I think about my kids complaining about having to show their work in math, like advanced math stuff and they all, every one of them hated it. I probably hated it too. But it's important to know how it works, right?

Vivi Gehan:

Yes. And to know where you go wrong, right? Because if you make one wrong move along the way, I remember doing like proofs in geometry, right? Oh, yes. Yeah. Oh, it's a four letter, five letter word. Um, uh, you know, you have to, you have to be able to know where the error was so you can correct it. So there is value in that. I think that's a, that's a transformation.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, I'm just, I've never thought about this now, but like, I think that actually is a skill, like being able to diagnose stuff, right? Like, was it like a forensic analyst almost, right?

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah, exactly. And it's funny that you say forensic because one of the things that, um, You know, when I was really elbows deep in Marketo, um, you know, whether I was in house or agency, um, when I would say, Hey, you know, we're hearing this person didn't get an email or this person's lead score was wrong and they didn't qualify for this campaign. And the first place you go is you look in their activity history and I would always call it forensic marketing because you could always find the answer. because everything was documented and logged. Um, and it's, uh, there's a lot of value in it. You can uncover a lot of stuff. You can spot anomalies, you can spot trends. Um, and so, yeah, there's, there's a lot of value in not fast tracking or not sort of cutting corners and documentation, even though it's. It's not

Michael Hartmann:

fun. Well, or, or just like learning the, like the steps that it takes to make something work before you automate it. Mm hmm. Exactly. I

Mike Rizzo:

mean, I, I'd say, um, this all, you know, lends credence to the thing that we talk about all the time and that makes somebody really successful in marketing operations is, is curiosity. Right. And so just trying to understand like what and how things work. I heard a lot of the, that language from you just now. Yep. Um, but also like. Like, blessing and a curse. Like, that curiosity is like also the thing that causes me to rabbit hole onto like, wait, why did that happen? And then, oh, I just found another problem. Like, clearly these people aren't getting the communication and they should have been getting it. Like, what's the problem there? Exactly. Salesforce integration broke again.

Vivi Gehan:

Exactly. And nothing in the world, I use pretty much exclusively Marketo, but obviously this applies to any marketing automation platform. My, my world has just always been Marketo, but everything is connected. You can't do something in a silo. And so to your point, you want to cover one thing and it's spiderwebbed to everything else. And so it, yeah, it can, it can certainly be, uh, Uh, you know, oh, in order to solve my original problem, I have three more dependencies to solve first and that can be a little bit tough. Yeah,

Michael Hartmann:

yeah, well, we, we, we were, uh, this is back a couple jobs ago where I had a Marketo Salesforce complicated integration and we started actually use digital pie. So. Like full transparency there, um, through the reporting that they had. We saw that a couple of fields, state and country were being updated, like hundreds of thousands of records every day. And we're like, what is going on? Like, we didn't have that much, but what we figured out was on the Marketo side, we had some stuff to normalize state and country, it would sync to Salesforce, which had a different normalization that would change it. And it was just like, just back and forth data ping pong. Yeah. Which was causing all kinds of extra transactions too. And it's like, unfortunately we couldn't fix that. Because with the Salesforce team, it wasn't a high priority. And so anyway, but it was like, we were like, why is this stuff going on? Like, but yeah, it was like, right.

Mike Rizzo:

The never ending loop of, uh, updating each other's normalization

Michael Hartmann:

tactics. Yeah. All right. All right. Well, so this got us to the point where like all that stuff was like in house, right? It was all in house. Yep. Yeah, so then you somewhere along the way you switched in to consulting. Yes So, how did that happen? And I'm really curious because I've gone from consulting to in house to consulting to in house a couple of times and like there's Things that I think are very different. Some things that are the same, but I'm curious what your experience was like that going through those transitions.

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah. So the way that that happened, um, was, you know, I, I kind of realized after a handful of years of using Marketo that, you know, it's. That when I went to user conferences or any, um, user groups or anything that there were a lot of, there was a lot of, uh, people sort of knew because Marketo was still really kind of carving a significant, you know, fast trajectory onto the market, but it was still new, all things considered. And I kind of realized, hey, this really makes a lot of sense to me. I understand how the product works. I understand what the best practices are. I understand through trial and error what the, you know, what errors you can make, what the pitfalls are. Um, and there's a lot of people who, who, you know, are, are learning it. And I, you know, I have an innate passion. Um, I taught piano for 15 years. And so I have an innate passion for teaching and coaching and educating and, you know, knowledge share and making people successful and feel really good. And so it, uh, an opportunity sort of presented itself that I hadn't considered. I didn't even know there was a world of Marketo consulting. Um, I guess I live with my head in the sand a little bit, but, um,

Mike Rizzo:

I think that's commonplace, by the way, holing onto like, discovery of new problems, Yeah, we tend to be pretty buried and never really come up. Yeah,

Vivi Gehan:

we don't come up for air very much, and when we do, we're like,

Michael Hartmann:

what day is it? Well, and I think if you've solved some of those problems, you think like, Oh, well this is like, everybody knows how to do this.

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah, right. Yeah. And you know, I loved that from the beginning Marketo fostered a really, really, um, highly integrated community from the get go. And that I think is what enabled me to like, you know, create a lot of, um, uh, connections and gain a lot of knowledge for all those other people as well. Um, but I kind of thought, you know, this seems like a no brainer. I want to continue to learn more, um, about as many different instances and business cases and use cases and, you know, no one company in house can use every single feature of Marketo, they don't apply to everybody. And so I wanted to have opportunities to explore different areas and different use cases and applying, you know, nuanced best practices to different, you know, unique requirements that, that you'd have to tailor to each company and at the same time, you know, Enable other people to look like rock stars, um, in, you know, in their roles and stuff like that. So that's how I, that's how I made the change. Um, again, it, it totally, it totally fell in my lap. I, you know, it wasn't expecting or looking, I didn't even know it existed. So that was a, another sort of serendipitous, you know, milestone.

Michael Hartmann:

No, that's, that's fine. And, and, and, uh, Was that mostly doing, like, client facing work, or were you doing selling, like, what? It was

Vivi Gehan:

all client facing, so handling multiple clients at a time in different types of projects. So some of them were just sort of helping, you know, be an extension of the team, you know, just, uh, you know, overflow work, or, hey, you know, can you help us just, a bunch of stuff as we go. Some of it is very specific deliverables. You know, we need to build out Nurture, um, which of course, then you have to back up and it's not just that you can build a Nurture by itself, but, you know, sort of specific, you know, help us build lead scoring and help us, you know, create a model and stuff like that, but all client facing. Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

So I'm curious, what was, uh, And I'll give an example, sort of the opposite way for me, because I went from consulting, not in Marketo, but like general management consulting to in house. But I, like, one of the biggest challenges I had go, move, with that shift was going from, Trying to get out of the, the default mode of answering questions with it depends, right, really being like you really like you were expected to have a point of view, an opinion, and to support it and move forward. And I think that's still true in consulting, but I think you given a lot more leeway to say, well, That's the way, and especially with the technology we have for marketing apps, right? There's, there is usually more than one way to solve a problem. Yes. So curious, but like that was a big challenge for me. We're just like getting over that like natural sort of habit that I've gotten into. What, what was it for you as you went from in house to consulting? That you struggled with?

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah, that's a good question. Um, I think there There were a couple the most the the biggest one which is a little bit different than what you're talking about I'll come back to it is the biggest one is learning how to sort of keep track of your time, right? Log your time be accountable for your time because when you're in house and you need to to your point mike Um, go down a rat hole. You can do that as ad nauseum, right? Unless you're up against a deadline that, you know, you to deliver something by, there's no time bound element to that. And you can't do that in the world of consulting because you have to be like, I can spend, I have a budget of up to three hours or something to figure this out. That was tough and kind of just being mindful of every minute that you're Spending has to go somewhere on a timesheet or, you know, against a, you know, a deliverable. That was really hard. Um, that's always the hardest thing. But beyond that, I think, yes, one of the other things that was really difficult is A client will say, Oh, we want to build a, you know, we, we need, uh, an last, last program before MQL, or, you know, um, we want to report to do, to do this and you have to balance kind of saying, sure, I'll build that for you, but why, what are you really getting after, tell me more about what you're trying to solve for so that to your point, and there's multiple ways to do it. Um, and then laying them all out for the client and saying, if you do a, you're going to sacrifice You know, X, if you go on, on the B route, you're going to get this, but that's going to, you know, have a challenge and then kind of letting them make the decision, it's their decision at the end of the day. And sometimes they make the decision that you're like, that's, I kind of advised against that one, you know, and I

Mike Rizzo:

tried to put in my tone of voice that that wasn't the right one.

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah. I made it clear what was going to happen, but if you're okay with that, you know, I'm anticipating in six months, you're going to come back and say. Yeah. So this is broken now. Yeah. And we all do it. I mean, like it's, it's impossible not to, but there, there was definitely a challenge. And then the third challenge I think, um, and you know, I think if I can say this being a female and being young in my career, working with people who were senior in the world of marketing and they were looking to me as the expert and the advisor. And that was. That was new, right? That was like, are you sure you, I know, I know, I know what I'm talking about, but you know, it took a little while to settle into the, you know, I'm the advisor. I know there's always things I can learn. I don't know the answer to everything. I will make mistakes or think I know it. And you know, there will be an error that happens. That's how we learn. Um, but that was an interesting, um, sort of, uh, uh, transition or, or challenge up, up front too.

Mike Rizzo:

I'm glad that, I'm glad your point on that went, went that direction, uh, although I'm sure there were plenty other engagements that maybe it wasn't, uh, that direction, it was maybe the other direction, which is like. That has

Vivi Gehan:

happened. I've had to bring in, I've had to bring in male senior support to be heard and it's frustrating. Yeah, it is, it is. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Rizzo:

Absolutely ludicrous to me. And, and, uh, hopefully we can continue to move beyond, uh, those things. There was a wonderful post, uh, another woman put. Out on LinkedIn just yesterday, I think it was, um, I think it was in one of the popular media outlets, um, uh, publication about, like, the blending of both ageism plus, uh, gender bias at one time and how difficult that can be, um, and so for those, I apologize, I don't know the, if I can find it, I'll put it in the show notes, everybody, um, but probably something worth taking a look at, but going back to, um, What you were saying a moment ago on sort of advising, um, you know, and just being a consultant in general. Now, you know, I think there's a couple of things that happen along the journey of, of entering into seniority in your function, right? Whether you're a consult. Um, I think there's a, there's a, definitely a tipping point where you're able to do the recommendations that you're talking about, right? Where you're saying, Hey, this or that, here's sort of the options, but it's up to you. Um, you know, choose your own destiny, but you're probably, if you go this way, it's not going to be good. Um, and at some point there's like, you know, a tipping point, right? Where you're like, I feel confident in being able to make that. Um, and I have two things. This is the first one though. Um, Like, how,

Michael Hartmann:

like,

Mike Rizzo:

how did you sort of, uh, navigate those moments when, um, you were realizing that, like, you were both, like, being seen as the expert, right? I don't know how to phrase this question the right way. It's more of just like a feeling, I guess, like, sometimes the client just wants to be told what to do. is what I'm getting at. And like, cause even today, like I have a few clients right now and like, they're like, I'll be totally honest with you. I know this is up to me to make a decision, but I just want you to sort of tell me what to do. Like, um, how was that for you in your journey as being a consultant? Like, how do you navigate those conversations? Um, you know, when that happens, like, yeah. What are your thoughts there?

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah, that's, that's a good question. I think that, I, I feel like there's, there's... Multiple different types of relationships with clients and expectations for what the client consultant relationship is from an advisor perspective from a sort of collaboration perspective to your point. Sometimes they just say, look, and this is at its most blunt basic level. Look, I hired you to be the expert. You just come in. Tell me what you're going to do. I'll bless it. Um, and you go do it, right? And then there are ones who really want to understand, they really want to be part of the decision making. And those are the ones that you are really successful in sort of coaching and educating and advising. And they become experts as well. And I think a successful consultant relationship actually ends at some point because you've taught the, you know, you've taught how to fish, right? I think there's a lot of value there. And there's, there's a significant portion of people who are like, I need help. I want to know. Teach me the ways, you know, accelerate my, my knowledge and my learning. And I think that those are, those are sort of a second group of people. And then there's a third group of people who want to use you as a sounding board, but really still want to and do own the decision for whatever reason. Sometimes it's a little bit tougher than others, right? They still think that they know better or, or they still say, I hear you. I'm still going to go. internally, we're going to make a decision, but thanks for the additional insight that helps us make what we think is the right decision for us. Um, but I think you have to just really understand, um, you know, so going back to sort of the, the, the joke, right. About like, oh gosh, you know, I'm analyzing you guys right now, but a lot of the consulting relationship is. The interpersonal component too, right? Understanding them, understanding what their fears are. We, they don't want, they don't want a consultant coming in and threatening their role, or, you know, um, we're here to, to actually make you shine and make you earn your MCE and whatever it is, because we've educated you along the way. So I think you have to just really understand your clients, um, their, their goals, their, you the goal is for bringing in a consultancy. And that can change over time too. And that can change, especially with new management coming in. Um, but I think it varies person by person, like client, person by client person. So

Michael Hartmann:

like, I know you had a second point, but I wanted to like, is I, you described sort of three types of clients. The one I was waiting for you to throw out, which I didn't hear, so fourth one maybe is the client who just says, do what I told you to do,

Vivi Gehan:

right? Yeah, yeah, that's fair. That's fair. And usually those are the ones and they come back and they're like, my instance is broken. And you're like, well, if you look back on the notes from, you know, November 7th, 2021, 21. You'll see that, you know, and those are usually not a successful relationship, but you're right. You're absolutely right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No,

Michael Hartmann:

I mean, I don't need to go down. I had a client in my early consulting days where I was managing the team on site. They were penny pinching, so I wasn't there, but they wanted, they were asking us to do something. In this case, it was like financial kind of thing. So, before I, and this is right before I left that consulting company, but I had written a memo to their leadership that basically said like, you asked us to do this, we don't think you should do this. Anyway, long story short, the CFO ended up getting fired because they tried to point the finger back at us, right? Um, So yeah, I could. So sorry, Mike. I know you had a second, second follow up question. So hopefully I didn't do a great

Mike Rizzo:

point. No, no, no, it's great. Um, I was so I wanted to go the other direction, which is, I think it's like a little bit edgy, right? Like, um, so sort of to the point of you reach, you reach this moment in your career where you really can make recommendations. Um, but yeah, You're talking about, like, earlier, um... You were saying, hey, you know, a transition to accounting for every moment of your time spent is like incredibly important, right? Um,

Michael Hartmann:

you get pretty

Mike Rizzo:

good at things as you go on in your career, right? You, you actually, you, you can probably source an answer to a problem that previously maybe four or five, six years ago took you four hours. Um, You know, there, I think there's a balancing act here. And so this one's really for the consultants out there, right. And for, I guess, for the agencies too, but definitely the independent consultants. Um, did you raise your rate so much that now you can account for that bill ability to say that took me 10 minutes and that's okay because my rate is so high that that value is still the same as it used to be that it took me three hours, or did you leave your rate appropriate and you bill based on value?

Vivi Gehan:

That's a great question, and it's a, it's a loaded question, and I'll totally answer it very honestly, but I think the most important thing is that you use the right word. There is the value, right? So, um, There's a story that we, that has been sort of told multiple times in, in my, the past couple of years of, you know, I think it's something like there's a boat engine that broke and, you know, they call out the boat engine repair expert and he brings out a wrench and, you know, they think he's going to like open the, you know, the engine and fix this thing and he, he kind of looks at the engine and he takes the wrench and he taps it once, kind of bangs it. On the outside of the engine, and it works. And he said, okay, that'll be ten grand. And he was like, wait a minute, you just tapped the engine. And he said, yes, but you know, the value of knowing where to hit it was worth that much money, right? Because I have the experience to do it. And that kind of resonates in the world of consulting to your point of the, the, the more experience you have, where you can say, hey, here's why I'm recommending this, because I've seen it happen five different ways, or I've done this five times over, or however many. But I think there's also a, there's a perception component on the, on the client side, right? Either, if you are going to say that, that took me, you know, four hours of, you know, of work, you need to be able to explain what goes into that four hours, right? So if a client's looking at a timesheet or an invoice and they said, well, what does this four hours comprise of? You're going to want to be able to sort of say it's, you know, reading troubleshooting, QA, delivering feedback, like all of that stuff. Right. Um, or, if you are at an agency where there are tiered rates, you know, um, based on seniority. Um, but a lot of that can just depend on the SOW because not every SOW sold exactly the same. It depends on the client requirements. So it's almost, it's almost like there is no one answer to that because there's a lot of variability, right? So you could say that I'm going to bill that at. 400 an hour as opposed to for 100, you know, um, hours, but it just depends on what the client's expecting to see, right? If you come in and say, our senior strategy person came in and did this, they, they might be okay with that really high rate, um, if they agreed to it for one hour, um, And you could probably also say the exact equivalent is our more sort of, um, like client facing day to day POC did the same thing in four hours that almost might still be perceived as the same result on the client end. Um, so I think it depends on who's doing it. what the client's expecting, what the rates are like, and they're locked in on the SOW. Um, and, and even to a little bit of how you prepare the client for that. You know, this is, this is kind of a tough one. I'm going to bring in our senior strategy person. They're going to come in and help. Um, and that can also immediately increase the perceived value, but you also want to be really careful that you're not perceiving. The POC as less valuable, right? Sometimes you want to bring in that you want to kind of name drop a little bit to justify the value. And also I think there's a huge benefit there of saying like, well, when you hire a consulting company, you're hiring every. Resource we have at hand to be full service in this, in this area for you. Right. So, um, I think, I don't know if that answers your question or not,

Michael Hartmann:

but yeah. I was just, sorry. I was just smirking because of how many times you said it depends. I was like, she is such a consultant.

Vivi Gehan:

Oh yeah. Those, those were the, those were the no, no words. Sorry.

Michael Hartmann:

That's all good. All good.

Mike Rizzo:

The answer is always, it depends. Uh, marketing ops, rev ops world, but yeah, I think it, I think it answers the question nicely and. provides, um, the context of thinking about different, different potential paths. You know, I've spoken to, um, I won't name the name, but like another agency owner that, that very like plainly said, you know what, you want our rate to go down? Sure. Sure. I can do that. We're just going to like the, the, the, the rate doesn't really matter at the end of the day, cause like we're going to bill on the value is essentially what the message was, right? Um, and for me as an independent sort of provider, uh, now, because I'm not embedded at an organization right now, um, you know, I, I often personally, and for those listening, like, you may face this too, but I, I sometimes struggle with that. I really do. Like, I move very quickly through, through work. Yep. And what, what, like, uh, I had someone helping me on a project recently. It took them... Three hours to get through something that took me, I kid you not, less than, like probably less than an hour. Right? Um, yeah. And it was the same exact task. It wasn't complex work. It just was like, the difference was the working style and like how quickly I can move through something. And that's not me tooting my horn. It's just that I've done it a few times. Right. And so like, so should I be billing three hours?

Vivi Gehan:

Like, I don't know. So the way I think about it, I think about. So, if I were my POC on the client side and I were to do that, how long would it take me? five, right? And so, okay, so you're getting that much value or that you're getting three hours or five hours, whatever worth of time from me. Right. And you're getting it done with testing, with, you know, me being really knowledgeable on the platform, you know, um, the, the best practices, documentation, you know, um, updating the ticket and whatever, like, whatever you're like, you're getting, you're getting sort of the full spectrum. And so it would take you just as long, but it's done. And it's not saying that the client wouldn't do it right at all. Um, but you know, you, you know, you're getting it done really well. And so I kind of equate it to like, well, what, like. How much is that worth to you in hours for, for what you would have had to do, right? Yeah, but it's, but I hear that a lot, especially with, um, Consultants who, you know, we've done a lot of hiring, um, a lot of people coming from in house to consultancy so coaching them through what that transition looks like and that is one of the number one struggles that I hear and People kind of saying like it doesn't feel right or like I don't think that I'm worth that, right? Like who am I to bill those three hours if it only took me one? Um, you know, and we talk a lot about the difference between billing actual versus billing for value. Um, and that can also depend on the project type. If you're, if you're doing fixed bid. That's different, right? And so there's, again, I'm going to say not, it depends, right? But there's a lot of variability, right? That that goes into answering

Michael Hartmann:

that. Well, I think that undervaluing yourself happens to a lot of people as they, if they go into consulting, whether it's with an agency or on their own or whatever. And I think a lot of it, it goes back to what I said. I think, I think a lot of people assume this is, I can't remember where I've heard this, but there's this sort of. Uh, over time, as you become, uh, more and more knowledgeable about something, there's a period of time where you clearly know you don't know much, but then there's an early period where you know a little bit and then you think you know, but you act as if you know way more. And then as you become an expert, you realize I know a lot, but there's a whole lot I don't know. Right. And so I think that that's a natural tendency to start questioning, even though you're an expert and that's why you've been brought in as a consultant to under that, like, like again, this is like. Oh, this is just like, everyone should know this, right? But they don't, right? And I don't, I think that's really hard to wrap your head around because when you get to that point where you're at that level of expertise in something, you realize how much more there is to know. Yeah, yeah,

Mike Rizzo:

totally. And, and that moment of, um, just like, I've said it a few times lately, you know, The projects that like I, I want to be involved with are very, you know, a little less hands on keyboards, a little more like, let me help you be, let me help you architect the right approach at this point, because like I know enough to say that's not going to work right. Um, and my, my statement that I always share with my friends and now all of our listeners after I say something like that is that totally feels like a cop out. Cause like, I know how to do all this stuff. Right. And I feel like I'm somehow now not doing the work. But, the reality is, is that like, to your point, Hartman, and you, Vivi, like, yeah, uh, you have reached a level where you, you know things that others don't, and there's value in that. And like, it's really hard to wrap your head around it. Even today, I'm like... I'll fall back on it a little bit and be like, sure, but I could, I could go build the thing for you. So it's fine. Don't worry about it. Right. So, but for what it's

Michael Hartmann:

worth. Yeah. Well, so I, yeah, so I feel like we've kind of dipped our toes now, I think, into kind of what your role evolved into VB, which is more of a business operations, right? So you're probably dealing with this kind of question all the time. Like, how did, how did that come about? What, uh, what has been the, like, again, like from a transition story, like, like what's the biggest thing. That's different in your mind from what you were doing. And I don't know, are you still doing consulting like customer facing stuff?

Vivi Gehan:

Okay. Only some training, some client training. Um, cause again, I, I, I, you know, I have that, that strong love for teaching and coaching and training and stuff. So I'm, I'm still, I'm still delivering. Um, so I'll get to, I still get to touch Marketo and, and, and share the passion. Um, but, uh, that's the only client facing stuff I

Michael Hartmann:

do anymore. Got it. All right. So this move into business operations. Yeah. What's the story there? Yeah. So

Vivi Gehan:

when we were, you know, uh, really starting to hit the ground running from a growth perspective, it was rapid. It was, you know, um, uh, it was moving a little bit faster than we were. And, you know, when you're at a certain size, you can really fly by the seat of your pants. You can make a lot work. You know, a lot of people wear a lot of hats and I think we were, I was, I was seeing existing challenges and also seeing upcoming challenges that would, you know, hinder a little bit of growth or a little bit of success or, um, you know, cause inefficiencies. So I remember sort of raising my hand and saying, Hey, we've really got to like, you know, bring a Marketo or, or services or strategy person into the scoping project because. Sales needs to be able to have someone bounce off the scope. Um, you know, like I said, you know, we would get clients sort of saying like, Oh, I want to, you know, just build out lead scoring. And we'd be like, well, in order to do that, here are the other three or four things that have to come first in order for, for lead scoring to even, you know, exist. And that might not be something that, um, person or someone not deeply embedded in the delivery would understand. And so we would see some of those and there'll be challenges and like, well, I, you have to go back to the client and say like, we can't do it in this amount of time, or there's some additional dependencies or we sort of have to eat some of that cost. Right. So recognizing some things that needed to get formalized or standardized or just better communication, um, things that, you know, my, my intention in doing that was to make sure that. Services could be delivered better. Our clients had a better experience, you know, um, we were just a little bit more, um, in lockstep, right, interdepartmentally, um, in order to grow, you know, we were bringing a lot of people on board, and we didn't have any sort of formal onboarding or training on, uh, on stuff, and so, you know, starting to see that if you move too fast and you're not catching up with it, Things are going to start to flail a little bit. And so I think by virtue of that, um, there was a little bit of a recognition of, okay, I think we need some, some sort of, um, dedicated effort to, to standardize and support that growth, support the scale, support, you know, hiring and, and, you know, that moves into resourcing in an agency and utilization and, and skill sets and training, um, you know, a lot of efficiencies, documentation, um, stuff like that. And so that's, that's how, um, that happened. And I think it was really, really, really valuable that I could deliver those. to a company of services people knowing exactly what the life and the day in the life of the services people are, right? Um, so I knew that the decisions being made, how they would be positively or negatively impactful, um, was really, I think, um, very beneficial to, to success in that role.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, sounds like it. Um, So we've talked, I think, through kind of to where you are. Just so one of the things that always fascinates me, and I know you talked about how serendipity played a role in kind of your, your journey. But I'm always curious about where they're either. Key moments that you think back on, Oh, if I had made this decision and gone down this other path, like what would have been different or people that were, you know, key to either helping you, you know, just in general, like mentors or whatever, or, or people who were good sounding boards along the way, key moments.

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, you. It's hard to recognize in the moment when something is, is pivotal, pivotal, right? And so I think, you know, just talking about those examples of sort of continuing to be like, Hey, I think we need to, you know, address this and Hey, let's like, well, do we have a plan for this? And I think we might want to consider, you know, project managers or projects are getting big enough that we need someone dedicated to that because we're seeing repeat, you know, challenges there. Um, I had no idea in the moment that that was going to lead to, um, a function that sort of spoke to all of those, um, you know, needs. And so, um, I think looking back, if I hadn't have said those things, or if I hadn't had, you know, even prior to that, hadn't have been a little bit more, like, if I had not been as embedded in the Marketo community and sort of recognizing, like, hey, there's a really, I can serve a, you know, a function here to, to support people who are new in their Marketo journey and help, you know, help accelerate their, you know, knowledge and their growth, um, all of that stuff. Yeah, I mean, I think you don't recognize what's sort of happening in the moment. Um, but I think, you know, as far as people, I'm, I'm a firm believer that you can, you can learn something from anybody and everybody, regardless of what their role is, what their, you know, experience or their tenure, their expertise are sort of what their, what their role and their level is relative to, to yours. Um, and so I've been really fortunate over the course of my career to work with a bevy of incredibly smart and talented people who are equally passionate about. transfer and sharing and bringing you in and, and, and collaborating and stuff like that. And so I've had a lot of, um, I've learned so much from, from all of those people, you know, leaders who, who want to, who want to see you grow, leaders who want to hear your opinion, leaders who let you take chances. And they might sit back and go, I know that's going to fail, but she'll learn, or I think she's got a good idea. Let's see how, how we can get that off the ground. Right. But, but, um, I think, you know, there's a lot, yeah, there's a lot of mentors I've had who have believed in me, listened to me, or, you know, just done, taken a lot of time out of their day to just answer. I am a big question asker. Um, so, uh, uh, people who take the time to answer those questions so that I can learn and grow those, those are, you know, fantastic mentors as well.

Michael Hartmann:

Gotcha. Um, So I think we're running kind of up on time here. So many things I ask, but, um, so why don't we, why don't we end with this one? This is when we used to ask everybody, I think at the end of the end of them, but we haven't done it in a while, which is if there was such a thing as a certified marketing ops pro, like what would you like? What were the first two or three things that you would think you have to have? This is part of it in terms of. Maybe it's a topic.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah, I want to preface your like, uh, tech, let's, let's be tech agnostic on this one. Yes,

Vivi Gehan:

exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I like that because, you know, again, my world is only Marketo, so I know all the Marketo certifications and I know they've changed over the years, um, largely for the better. But. A lot of them are how well do you know the platform and there's huge value in that right akin to Salesforce admin and there's, you know, that's a degree of proficiency, but it doesn't necessarily test your knowledge for best practices and marketing operations, architecture and infrastructure and best practices to your point exactly, it should be tech agnostic. It should apply to every single platform out there and every tech stack out there. The build might look a little different, but the best practice and the overall approach really, I think there's a lot of value in, you know, uh, even asking something like, would you, you know, uh, why would you not want to include MQL as a status in, you know, a channel or whatever is equivalent and other platforms, right? Like being able to answer that question, I think. a lot of knowledge and a lot of, you know, thinking and thought process. Um, and so I think, yeah, I think that would be fantastic for a lot of careers because that would prove more strategic thinking and less tactical execution. Um, both of which highly are highly valuable, but would be a great proof point of, you know, I can think through the process and the benefits on a, you know, larger scale.

Mike Rizzo:

I love, I love that response of the. The group we've pulled together, um, I want to say there's between nine and 12 of us total, all different backgrounds, uh, agency, independent consultant, uh, tenured, you know, experts at a SAS, B2B SAS company, et cetera. Um, and one of the things that sort of like came from one of our last like board meetings, so to speak, as we try to come up with what does this really look like, uh, from a certification perspective. Um, Was this idea that like every bit of, like at a certain point, every bit of what you touch in sort of marketing apps, there's like a strategy component to it, right? You said it at the very earliest part of this interview, like podcast today, where you said everything's sort of connected together. Like one thing has a dependency on another. And so. There's a level of strategic thinking that has to come into play, like, as you, as you sort of move along, right? You know, there's certainly the pillars of marketing operations, right? Like, cool, I can, I can execute on campaign operations and deliver on taking content and making sure it hits, you know, the, the tokens and the variables and gets sent to the right audience and I build the list the right way. But as soon as you start to branch into... Things outside of just sort of plugging in entry points and hitting send on, on programs. Um, you immediately start to, to scratch at, yeah, you can be tactical execution, but the only way that you're ever really going to go beyond that is by getting into this strategic thinking bit. And strategy has such a wide, it's like the word campaign. Yeah. Like campaign means a million things. Yeah. Strategy

Michael Hartmann:

means a million things.

Mike Rizzo:

Amen. Um. But, no, I appreciate, I appreciate your answer and we sort of put you on the spot there, but it just

Michael Hartmann:

felt like... What would we, what would you call that? Like, I struggle with, like, I agree with you that, I mean, I always tell people who, who, when I've had teams before is, when we're, when you're being asked to do something, even if it's from me, you know, if you don't know why, or the context behind it, um, like ask, because I want you to, I want you to understand that, but I don't know, I don't know how to describe that as a... Like if it was to, like, name a course, like I wouldn't know what to call it. Yeah. Yeah,

Mike Rizzo:

they're like, yeah, I don't know either.

Vivi Gehan:

I wonder if we know anyone in marketing who could come up with something.

Michael Hartmann:

Right?

Mike Rizzo:

It's really, really hard. I mean, you know, the line of thinking that I have right now, and I've been sort of saying it for the last couple years, is some level of a practicum, a deliverable, that is, Uh, you know, document sort of based in documentation and really right thinking through and, and writing out the, the theory of how things work less about the technology platform themselves, but like, you know, how does a lifecycle work and why does that matter? And, and something like that, I think can help somebody deliver on at least thinking about the why behind each of the decisions that go into a tech

Michael Hartmann:

stack. Well, like thinking about it from the standpoint of, I mean, marketing funnel or buyer's journey or something like that, where you're saying like there's building awareness and then there's, you know, generating interest and so on. Right. And then, you know, there's then sort of tech and process things that go with it. Maybe that's, that's it. And it's interesting because it's like, just recently I've had conversations about the challenges with, uh, Pipeline sourcing, uh, attribution. And yeah, when, when I, as I'm kind of digging into it and it's like, well, I actually think the S the source of the challenge is not technology it's. People being disciplined primarily on the sales side. And so the problem is not really a tech one. There may be a component to it that, that, like, just, but saying that and recognizing like there's some landmines out there potentially. Right.

Vivi Gehan:

Despite the best technology or the best technology build and architecture, there are still humans running and approving and managing and messing with unintentionally or intentionally the data and the. flow and the, you know, the, the, the business component that drives or is driven by the technology and the automation. So, I mean, there's still a huge personal component that you have to take into consideration when you're explaining, advising, getting approvals, bringing in, you know, when you bring in the sales team. to, to talk about, you know, the life cycle of scoring or the, or the integration, the sync, or why, you know, why their, their data normalization for state should be turned off because it's competing with ours, right? Like coming to a consensus, there's still all of those people behind it, you know, so there's, that's, that's always going to be the, one of the biggest challenges, but,

Michael Hartmann:

you know, so now I'm curious, like, and I'm thinking back to like one of our very earliest episodes, somebody said, like, one of the things you need to have is, Uh, like almost like a behavioral psychology degree, right? To be in marketing ops and be like a grandmaster of chess. Like it was like, like thinking through all these things, plus understanding people and their, it feels like a brandy episode. Yeah. Yeah, it was. Brandy's

Mike Rizzo:

speaking at Massapalooza too. Oh, shameless

Michael Hartmann:

plug. All right. Well, I need another reason why I need to get up, get on it and book my, book my ticket. Everybody's like, wait, Hartman's not going by default? Uh, See? Life. I know.

Vivi Gehan:

Life. You're too busy helping, uh, with long, uh, not long division, but, uh, you know, tough

Michael Hartmann:

math homework. Yeah, it's, it's even beyond that now. I've got one who's transitioning off to college soon, so. That's a whole new, no, whole new thing. So anyway, um, Vivi, this has been fantastic. Really enjoyed this conversation. If anybody wants to kind of Learn more from you or keep up with what you're doing or whatever. What's the best way for them to do that?

Vivi Gehan:

Yeah, thank you. They can follow me on LinkedIn or send me an email gmail. com or reach out if they can't figure out how to do Like how to find me on LinkedIn or anything reach out to you and send them my way. I'd be more than happy I'd be delighted and I'm super honored to be here. So thank you so much for for having me for taking the time to go through my background and

Michael Hartmann:

to chat I think it'll be inspiration for, for folks out there. So yeah, this

Mike Rizzo:

is super, super fun. Thank you for coming on with us.

Michael Hartmann:

Absolutely. And Mike, thanks for joining and, uh, look forward to hopefully soon we get Naomi back, right? That's right. Um, she'll be here soon. Yes. Um, and thanks to all of our, all of our audience, our listeners out there for your support. And we look forward to getting you more of these episodes here soon. Bye everybody.