Transcript How to Demonstrate Empathy

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Mitch Simon 0:10
Welcome to another episode of team anywhere where CEOs, leaders and experts are building teams, companies, organizations, and amazing cultures

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 0:21
share how to lead from anywhere in the world. I’m your co host on the East Coast, Judy Bianca Mathis,

Mitch Simon 0:28
and I’m your co host on the West Coast. Mitch Simon. And we invite you to join us team anywhere.

On today’s podcast we interview Cindy xo Chief Marketing Officer at logarithm based in Boulder, Colorado Of course, Cindy, leading a team from anywhere lives in the Washington DC area. Cindy is extremely talented and mixing agile and empathy. Cindy talks about utilizing the principles of Agile by having a daily standup and doing a lot of skip level one on ones. For stand ups and skip level one I was always open with how everyone is doing physically and mentally focused these days is building trust through transparency, vulnerability in a lot of communication. She encourages being open about personal challenges as well as sharing her own personal life situations and life stories. Through Cindy’s interview you’ll find how to be a more connected, trusting and vulnerable leader as you team from anywhere.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 1:38
Great everyone. Welcome to Team anywhere and we are so privileged and excited today to have with us Cindy zone, who is an incredibly sophisticated and experienced a person in the marketing field. She has been With many companies is being very much watched out there. She gives tons of presentations and writes many papers. And I’m going to hand it over to you, Cindy to talk a little bit, the short version of your, what are you doing now? And to help us just get a little more familiar with your line of work so we can jump into teams and leadership.

Cindy Zhou 2:33
Well, first and foremost, Jenny and Mitch, thank you so much for having me. I’m really honored to be a guest on your podcast, and and to chat with this team about leadership. Really, it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. I’ve been very privileged and very fortunate and honored to be a part of several companies ranging in sizes from, you know, the 25 employees start up where I was a employee number 25 at a company called rivermont. All the way up to being a leader and an executive at IBM, you know, which is, you know, multi, you know, fortune 10 Corporation. So I’ve been very fortunate to have a good career across these different companies and, and currently right now I am the Chief Marketing Officer of a cybersecurity software company called logarithm. We’re a global company, and I’ve got a team all across Europe, Asia, North America, of course, we’re headquartered out of Boulder, Colorado. And it’s been a really, really fun ride.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 3:33
Wow, fantastic. So you know a little bit about international and people be dispersed? Well, I’d like you to tell me one of your most recent stories that you shared with me a couple of weeks ago, of what was happening at logarithm, and then on top of all that COVID happened and how you had to get Your team inspired to move through this. Yeah, I really think it shows some incredible leadership pieces we want to emphasize.

Cindy Zhou 4:09
Well, thank you so much Jenny and and definitely I to give the audience members some context. So I joined logarithm about eight months ago. So I joined the company last November. And I was traveling every single week from the DC area over to Boulder, Colorado, for this for this new opportunity. And of course, you know, we go into four months later, I’m in the midst of marketing transformation, launching a new website bonding with my team. And and then COVID hit and and definitely, you know, I think when COVID first happened, the uncertainty across the not only the business world, but you think about your teams, and I’m fortunate to have a global team of, you know, 40 some odd people in my organization is that You know, everyone’s dealing with the uncertainty, the fear, the doubt, you know what, what’s going to happen, there’s a lot of fear going on at the time. And really, as a company, there’s a lot of things that we do as a exec team that you have to do your business continuity planning, that has to happen, you have to look at your overall business and then have multiple scenarios do that scenario modeling. And a lot of this is at the same time you have business to run. And and you have to keep your team motivated. And so really for for logarithm, and I think for many, many companies out there, one of the key things that you have to do and as a leader is I believe in first having empathy. It’s really having empathy for your team, understanding what they’re going through and trying to trying to help alleviate some of those fears as much as you can. But just like every other business, we had to, you know, take a look at at our quarter, you know, it happened right around q1, we were a company that actually closed our offices. little earlier than then some other offices and also with the government mandates we closed I remember this very vividly on March 12. You know, so it’s a little bit earlier and and we close our offices, everybody transition to work from home. And at that point, you really just have to keep your your ear to the ground and making sure that you’re communicating, communicating and over communicating with your teams, you obviously

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 6:22
had to sit down, say to yourself, alright, how am I going to make this work? How am I going to make these numbers and then I have all those people out there? What am I going to do? So what did you tell yourself and what did you do?

Cindy Zhou 6:39
Yeah, absolutely. I think the first thing is, and many times, you know, I say this to my team, when I first joined to and I’ll share this with your audience. You know, a lot of people look at leadership and they look at career progression, and they think I want to be in the C suite. I want to I aspire to be a executive and I want to have a big team and all these things. But what people actually fail to realize is that the amount of responsibility on your shoulders, that is not to be taken lightly, it’s not a title. It’s not a perceived power within an organization or within an industry. It is truly a responsibility, you are carrying people’s livelihoods on your shoulders. And that is something that for every leader that you can’t take for granted. So, you know, again, I don’t say this to sound trite around it, but in many cases, you have to put your own fears aside, you know, with with this pandemic, I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know what to look into, just like all of us. We’re all dealing with it for the first time and a lot of is putting your own fears aside and tell yourself right you’ve got a team that depends on you. And it is you know, you may not know but that’s okay, you know, we can go into the unknown together and you just you give it your all every single day. You make the best of every day, leave no regret. And you can continue through how much

Mitch Simon 8:01
time are you spending with your team? Working through those conversations, which is like, Guys, I know there’s a lot of fear here. Hey, guys and gals I know there’s we don’t know. Like, how much how much of your time? Are you spending that either in one on ones or as team conversations?

Cindy Zhou 8:20
Yeah, absolutely. Great question Mitch. And one of the key things that I would recommend to any cmo is to think about employing agile marketing methodology in the organization. So I’ve been using agile marketing for about, you know, two plus years now. And so I brought it into logarithm into the team. And one of the things and the principles of agile marketing is that you have a daily standup so in addition to your one on ones and I do a lot of skip level one on ones too, is that we as a marketing leadership team, we meet every single day, and these are short daily meetings. 15 minutes and you go through, what did you do yesterday? What are you focused on working on? Today, and if you have any roadblocks, and everyone goes around the horn, and you can do that in a very quick manner, when COVID first hit, we definitely use a little bit more time during the daily standup. And one of the key things that we started to do and implemented was a before you go into your updates about work, first talk about how are you doing physically, mentally? How’s your team doing? Because these are all my leaders and my stand up, and they have cascaded stand ups with their own teams. But it’s talked about first, how are you? And how are you? How’s your team? And then we go into the business updates. And so I would definitely say that being in front of my team and being visible all the time, that definitely helps. And so agile marketing really, really helped with this COVID situation. There was not a moment where I think that my team was curious or worried about like, Hey, we’re Cindy and what’s happening, being in front of the team, and it was great because it was seamless. We were already doing it and now Just transitioning to all video. And and so it was pretty seamless for us.

Mitch Simon 10:05
It seems like you added empathy on top of agile, you know, it’s like you’ve got, you know, we’re going to we’re going to be much more empathetic and I’m just wondering is, as empathy help drive your success, do you think? I think in many

Cindy Zhou 10:20
ways, Mitch, I would definitely say that. What means the most to me, isn’t sort of the personal success and the accolades and those things. It’s the it’s the moments where I get an email or a text message from a former team member. And the right Cindy, I got an award. You know, I wonder if this is true story. One of my former team members, I won president’s club, and he sent me a picture in text and he said, I wanted to thank you because I wouldn’t be where I’m at today in my career, if it wasn’t for your mentorship and your coaching. And those are the moments that that hit me and I think that that’s What I do what I do, that’s what makes everything worth it. And so I do believe empathy is a very, very big component of this, I shared this in a CMO interview. I did too, with CMS wire that I believe that for today cmo is have empathy. Your team can tell if you’re genuine, and if you care about them, and if you care about them, they’re that much more open to to make you proud. And I think that that’s it I want to make them proud just like they want to make me proud.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 11:31
I’ve heard you talk to me giving me many situations. What Why are you say to individuals and the whole group? I want what’s best for the team. This is not just me, Cindy saying, we have to do this for me or for I just came up with this idea or I read it right. I want what’s best for the team. How has it been worked for you. What what, how do those discussions go?

Cindy Zhou 12:04
Yeah, absolutely. I think that there are many situations in a leaders life where you have to make a tough call. And and that’s part of being an executive and a leader is that, you know, there were always many, many, many options. There are many routes to accomplishing one thing or making a decision. But ultimately, someone needs to make the call. And so one of the first things that I do believe that every leader and I say this to my team is that I promise you trust and I promise you transparency. Now trust comes with time. And so I remember on my first marketing meeting, I grabbed every, you know, had an all hands and I said, I promise you that I will always be open with you. You may not like every decision that I’m going to make. But I will share with you that every decision I make I think about this team first and I think about the impacts to you and I think about the impacts of the company before I make those decisions, so you may not like every decision I make in the future, but know that that is very much part of my talk track. And then the second part is you don’t trust me now but you will learn to trust me. And that part of it is always being open and transparent. So I do believe that having that that trust factor there, it enables people to say great, you know, at some point it’s the I I believe in what she’s doing and I believe in the decisions she makes, I’m being considered in that decision

Mitch Simon 13:36
for me, I love that that conversation on trust because it used to be that your manager would be down the hall so even if you saw him You thought maybe he’s thinking about me probably not. But now we just actually got off a podcast about absence makes the heart grow fonder. Now absence, right, so You know if I’m working for you and I’m in I don’t know in Zimbabwe, right? Or maybe it used to be down the hall. I don’t hear from you. So how do I how do I What are you doing such that I should keep that trust equation up with with you as my manager? When I am scattered and distributed in a home alone with my three little twin boys? I don’t have three two little twin boys, or somebody does

Cindy Zhou 14:26

Mitch Simon 14:31
That was that was so bad Mitch. vallon forever, but I’m Yeah, what are you doing to Bill Nevermind. What are you doing to build track? In your equipment in your in your in your physical absence?

Cindy Zhou 14:44
Yeah, absolutely. And Mitch, I go back to you know, the daily stand ups, right because the daily stand ups. We go through so I’m I’m every day I’m meeting with my team, and then they turn around right after our stand up and they’re having their own daily standup with their own team and What they’re doing is as I share company information, I’ll say, take this into your standup and share it with the broader team. I think that that way, there’s always this consistent thread of communication on a daily basis. So I will confidently say that that particular scenario doesn’t really happen to me because there’s a meeting with my team every single day. What I have started doing more of is the skip level one on ones. So when I first joined the company, I had I made a mission I said, I want to speak with every single person within the marketing organization. And within marketing at logarithm, I don’t just have marketing, the traditional sense of corporate marketing, Product Marketing. I actually have the SDR organization so the BD RS that they report into marketing. I have revenue operations, which is not only marketing Ops, but sales ops, the report into the marketing organization. So with that team, I made sure to meet with every single person understand, you know, what’s working, what’s not Career objectives, etc. But then now because of COVID, I’ve really continued that, right? It’s it’s the, okay, I talked to all of my leaders, you know it who is on your team that you feel like I need to have a skip level what so that they feel comfortable and confident in what they’re doing, and that their work matters. And so that’s definitely something that I do a lot of, and yet it’s a lot of time, you know, I will share with your audience members who are in leadership, you might be thinking that’s a lot of one on ones plus a daily meeting, how can I fit all of that in, but I promise you spending the little bit of time to go through and having these daily meetings etc. It pays off in dividends later on. And so I highly encourage i think that that is my job and what I’m here to do, so I will prioritize one on one meetings over, you know, other kinds of meetings that I need to have every day

Mitch Simon 16:59
Yeah. We were getting are like looking at different acronyms. You know, and you’re kind of speaking the acronym of being a CEO, being a chief, Chief empathy officer, you know, really, because we are so distributed, that, you know, it’s like, Hey, this is now, you know, yes, you have all those other things you can do. But this is now your new role, which is you gotta spread empathy. And I’m sure you must be sharing that with your direct reports.

Cindy Zhou 17:25
Absolutely, absolutely. And I go back to my team members, they started doing the same thing, which is in their stand ups. And again, this is the early days of COVID. Now it’s a little bit better because now people I think, are much more used to the working from home situation less fear and anxiety around around the pandemic. But they did the same thing. You know, talk to me about how are you doing? How’s your family loved ones. We did that before every sales call to in the company meetings as well. It really was as good, the whole corporate logarithm, embrace that and all All of our daily stand ups and interactions in the beginning because it really is it’s about the team verse, you know, I’ll share our CEO said, right? Our company is no company without our people in it. And so that’s the first thing is we want to prioritize our people. And, you know, I’ve got team members, young, small toddlers, some of it really is working with them on having a schedule where, where they’re working, and then they go to take care of the child, and then their spouse gets to work at that time period, and then on and off. And I think a lot of it is being very open minded to these new norms of work. I joked in another interview, I said, you know, people talk about work life balance. It’s not all about work life integration, you know, how do you integrate these two? Hi, I agree.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 18:47
Totally. It’s an integration now. And you still need to have boundaries. People need to understand that and yet, you’ve got to step back and consider the whole That’s, that’s fabulous. share with us how you are. Alright, so now you are doing this with your different meetings. Do you have any social kinds of things that you try to do fun things in turn? Because, again, you can’t have that party?

Cindy Zhou 19:23
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And this is really where I give a lot of credit to my team for their creativity too. And one of my team members, my director of growth marketing, she, she recently ran a trivia, trivia, you know, to our blog, we just we got a lot of the team members together and then she had all these questions and people were shouting out answers over over Microsoft Teams, and it was really, really fun too. So I do think that there’s an element of that Oh, and my other team members she she started doing like a morning yoga class. Know that just a few few minutes. we’ll hop on and then do a yoga class. I’ve heard people do like storytime. So they’ll have some all the kids gather and then somebody will want a story. I mean, there’s just great ideas. I actually just got off a call with our, our new VP of HR, we’re going through some ideas on engaging, engaging the employees as well. So we definitely do believe in having fun and actually one of the things that I transition that’s why I don’t have the marketing happy hour anymore. is actually for the summer we wanted to do something to to thank the employees for you know, sticking by through a very tough time is that we’re doing half day Fridays all summer. So we actually close the office at 12 noon Mountain Time and everyone you know, really gets a get gets the afternoon off so they get a little bit of an extended weekend and and that’s been working out really well I think for for company morale as well.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 20:58
I’m noticing you’re talking seamlessly. So no one really understands that. Wait a minute, are you saying, you know, brick and mortar? Are you saying virtually It sounds like you’re saying both at the same time?

Cindy Zhou 21:17
Oh, you mean the the virtual part of the

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 21:19
Yes. I mean, you’re saying Well, we’re close. We closing a half day. Well, obviously you’re not in the building now. You’re virtuals. So but it’s a virtual close. You got it? Yes. Definitely virtual closing and we’re not at work. Yeah. Not at work.

Mitch Simon 21:36
That’s a great a great idea. Yeah. What do you think is? So I love your, your your empathy, agile marketing. And I’m wondering what is what is unique to your culture and what is it that your employees around the world would say? Well, the reason why, you know, I come to work at this company every day Because of this, like what is it that you’re that you’re finding is the the stickiness of your culture that’s keeping people engaged?

Cindy Zhou 22:08
Yeah. And Mitch, thanks so much for that question. This is something when I was even looking at joining logarithm, something that really kind of resonated with me and I think that if you ask any member of the we call the logarithm nation, right, though they’ll share this with you is that this company has an incredible culture of giving back, giving back to community. If you go on our website right now and you go to the about section, we have a page called log giving. And that’s an entire initiative that we’ve really embraced as a company where our employees go out and they they do charitable volunteer work. We donate to a ton of charities, globally. It is something that is really much ingrained in our fabric. So I’ll give you a couple of examples here. Earlier this year in January. We have our you know, global What we call our comms revenue kickoff meeting, and, and that, you know, brings all the sales teams, customer success marketing, you know, we’re all we’re all together to talk about, you know, the rah rah for the year. And as a part of that, you know, one of my team members had the idea of bringing in the community element, so we partner with the United Way. And we actually had a couple of hours during one of the days where we went and we built bikes for underprivileged elementary schools in the Colorado area. And then there was a whole other line of folks, myself included, we were making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless, and then there was another, another team making Santa Santa sanitary kits, you know, for the homeless as well. And when you’re doing it together as a team, I really felt at that moment I said, Wow, what an amazing company to be a part of You know, when you have everyone from the CEO on down, we’re all working together in these assembly lines, get these packs together. And then we’ve made some fun. We had some fun activities after the bikes are built, like we had a little slow bike race and stuff and we have prizes. But I’ll go back to community is so ingrained in this after COVID hit, we turned a lot of our customer user group meetings virtual these were in person in Region meetings, we took them virtual. And so my team very quickly pivoted on that. And usually we would provide lunch to the customers and attend our user group meetings. Well, instead of that, we said to our customer community, we’re going to make a donation. And there’s a video of this on on LinkedIn to where for our northeast Boston area user group, we actually made a donation to Mass General Hospital to the frontline workers to the hospital workers, and we delivered dinner for them and and so Those are the kinds of things where without any prompting, you know, this isn’t like an intentional, like we need to do something for it. No, it’s so natural to the the team members of logarithm, that I believe that that’s what’s unique about our culture. And we’ve really taken that and extended it even during this pandemic time period. So I’m so so proud of the team for that.

Mitch Simon 25:28
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors, Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia School of Business and Technology, innovative solutions upskilling for the what’s next and oyster organizational development, dedicated to higher performance, business success, and leveraging teams that can be found at oyster And finally, we Django designing customized talent acquisition. solutions at VJUN So tell me, Cindy, what is what has been the biggest challenge? I know I it’s interesting. A lot of our calls are really with people who’ve been virtual, virtually forever or forever. So this last, this last four or five months has been it’s definitely been virtual. There’s also been fear and instability. Where has been your Where have you been thinking a lot about your leadership? Where have you changed as a human over the last four or five months? And how has this current time really impacted that?

Unknown Speaker 26:43
Yeah, I feel like

Cindy Zhou 26:46
that it’s important for leaders to also show vulnerability. And, and again, it goes back to the original theme that we talked about earlier in the podcast around transparency. And I do believe That team members, you know, when we talk about empathy, it’s a two way street. And, and part of it is also showing, you know, and talking about some of the challenges that you yourself are dealing with face with etc. And I feel like in many ways that it doesn’t show weakness as a leader, it actually shows, you know, more team bonding, and that kind of, you know, cross empathy, right, we should all build more empathy towards each other. So it’s one of those things where I’m also very open about, you know, personal challenges during this time period. I do believe at that, that that helps. And so a lot of that self reflection for me as a leader is I’ve realized that it’s you know, sometimes it’s being more open to sharing more about you know, sometimes it’s personal life stories and situations. You go through the the highlights and the low lights together. I make a point to know my team members, not only They’re, you know spouse’s name, but I want to know their kids names, their dog’s names, you know, their, their pets, Animal, children names, and it’s one of those things where I try really, really hard

Unknown Speaker 28:15
for people

Cindy Zhou 28:16
is, it is not easy. But for me as a leader, I’ve definitely felt over the last couple of months that that that human connection and even really just taking a moment and really just asking people, how are they doing that’s more important than ever. And I think that that’s something that I’m going to take with me for the rest of my career path to I felt like I was good at doing that. But now even more so. I feel that because my team has done some amazing things. I mean, we are, we ended up closing q2 stronger than ever we we be, we have projections for covid plan and then we beat our regular plan and Team pivoted to to doing, you know, 33 webinars across the globe on top of 20 plus virtual events. We had 99 pieces of PR coverage in q2 plus launched a new website at the end of March. I mean it is it is an amazing amazing feat that they’ve accomplished and and I will go back to I truly believe we didn’t have all of this communication and staying in touch with each other. I don’t think we could have accomplished all that.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 29:35
Basically not

Mitch Simon 29:36
it’s great. What do you a lot of the people right now in the Wall Street Journal are reading that. Okay, so that was fine. But what happens when the honeymoon is over? And you look at the person you really married? So there’s any what what are you thinking about where do you need to go deeper moving, moving on, as this is going to be? You know, I google just announced yesterday. Today that they’re they’re not back until July 2021. Correct. So if you see this as another year, where are you going to deep, dig deeper as a leader to, you know, keep that connection flowing?

Cindy Zhou 30:12
Yeah, absolutely. And Jenny and Mitch, one of the unique parts about our industry in cybersecurity is that unlike some other industries, this is still a relatively strong industry where companies are not cutting back on their cyber security budget. And so what that means is that the, the war for talent is raging on within my space. And we did right I mean, you know, totally transparent. We do have team members that are in queue to jump ship to competitors, other companies, etc, you know, because hey, you know, they’re, they’re not cutting back on on hiring or anything and they’re just as aggressive as before, you know, it’s that thirst and work for talent. So that is definitely something that’s very much on my mind. Which is how to I’d be a better leader to ensure that, you know, my team also is seeing career projection of growth progression, seeing that they have a solid future at logarithm, and that they can build a career here. And so so that is in my mind a lot, which is, you know, offering up routes to learning. I’ll give you another example. One of the things I’ve done is, I started a Marketing Leaders book club. And we’re going to be picking our second book now. But we finished reading radical candor together. And radical candor. Part of it is you know, as a, as a great leader, you not only have to give feedback, and sometimes it’s hard. People don’t want to do that. And you both are very aware of that. It’s a hard one hurt people’s feelings. But it’s so important. People can’t get better if you don’t give feedback. But on the flip side of that is how do you receive feedback and so that’s That’s one thing that I want to continue on is, you know, asking my team, right and team if you’re listening to this podcast back to right What can I do better to help you help the team?

Mitch Simon 32:14
I really really exam you know, what, what you’re having me think about is, is really building you know, strong, true deep, deep emotional relationships, which is, which is, you know, it’s the silver lining of, you know what’s going on in the world. And whether it’s forcing us to or whether we’re choosing to, I do think that the secret to teaming anywhere is to just be a human being, you know, and, and, and connect on a real deep level, which we kind of maybe we lost that, you know, maybe not all companies lost it, but I think a lot of people were, you know, go go go, go go and now you know, I don’t have to sit my car and I you know, I don’t have to run to the store as much. And it’s it’s just a much more real authentic time, which

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 33:09
they’re also realizing like right here on on a zoom call or whatever the platform you’re using you are right here. You know it’s in your mind face, which has a almost a much more intimate feel it can have a much more intimate feel, then maybe I see you twice walking down the hall. Yeah,

Cindy Zhou 33:32
absolutely fascinating with customers when COVID first hit, it was one of those situations where you think about what we do is cybersecurity software and, and, and log management. It’s all about threat detection, you know, intrusion prevention, etc. And so when everybody transitions to work from home, those risks went up exponentially. Oh, yeah. We very quickly got so proud of my team for that. This one very quickly, we pivoted on launching a COVID resources page on our website. We not only shared our intelligence around how we as a security company made the transition to work from home we did a webinar ended up getting 1500 registrations of this webinar. When we had our own seaso, who is a known industry entity, give a whole talk around how did he manage the work from home and tips and suggestions? And in our customers came back just really appreciative. That’s a great content. We got on average, all four and five star ratings on bright talk for that webinar. Then we had our own seaso a CIO come in and talk about how did he take his team and pivot to work from home, people were commenting like great tips, and we learned something from this and it wasn’t just a, you know, a lot of webinars, some people just do like a sales pitch. You know, we really, genuinely wanted to be helpful. And so I think Those things really kind of helped us in q2 as well.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 35:03
No, I think so. Yes.

Mitch Simon 35:06
Yes. Thank you, Cindy. That was just just great and great giving really good perspective of, of leadership in this time and how much again, how it demands vulnerability and transparency and authenticity and a commitment to other human beings on the planet. So thank you have been incredible guests. And thanks for for those listeners listening to another episode of team anywhere. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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