Season 3 Episode 4
May 21, 2024

[DECODED] Wisdom and Witticisms

In the world of marketing, much like gambling, we take calculated risks. We strategize, we forecast, and we adjust. Today on Decoded, we'll look beyond numbers and wagers through Blaise Pascal, whose thoughts, often poetic and deeply personal, remind us that at the core of all of our strategies lies a human touch.

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In the world of marketing, much like gambling, we take calculated risks. We strategize, we forecast, and we adjust. Today on Decoded, we'll look beyond numbers and wagers through Blaise Pascal, whose thoughts, often poetic and deeply personal, remind us that at the core of all of our strategies lies a human touch. 

“Good ideas don’t matter. Good people do.”

  • {00:07:11} - “A lot of magic happens when you allow yourself to be bored. I actually think that's when really interesting things come about.” - Rabah
  • {00:11:05} - “When people ask me how much I should post on social media, that's not the right question. The question is, how many times can I post while generating value?” - Rabah
  • {00:18:02}} - “In investing, you actually would rather be right once or twice really heavy. Whereas in marketing, it's the opposite. I want to figure out where I'm right and use it almost more of as experimentation to palpitate the elephant. And then when I do find a really awesome well to dig, then I'm going to put more rigs on that land and then keep doing that.” - Rabah
  • {00:22:45} - “Having intersectional knowledge gets really, really interesting. That's when you can really find some big unlocks.”  - Rabah

Associated Links:

Phillip: [00:00:11] Welcome to Decoded, a podcast by Future Commerce, presented this season by FERMÀT. Hi, I'm Phillip. And today, we are diving into the life of a man who gambled with ideas as much as he did inventions. His name was Blaise Pascal. In the world of marketing, much like gambling, we take calculated risks. We strategize, we forecast, and we adjust. But Pascal's insights into probability have permeated much more than just the casino floor. The inventor of the roulette wheel has influenced how we understand and target consumer behavior, each campaign being a roll of the dice. Today on Decoded, we'll look beyond numbers and wagers, because Pascal was a master of the written word. His thoughts, often poetic and deeply personal, survive in his Pensees. And as marketers, as storytellers, we're reminded, that at the core of all of our strategies lies a human touch. The ability to connect, to persuade, and to move people with our words. Rabah, are you a gambling man?

Rabah: [00:01:30] Back in the day in my young, young, crazy years, I got into sports betting a little bit, but I have since shaken the vice. But, yeah, I enjoy a wager just as much as the next person.

Phillip: [00:01:46] You were in Vegas just now. Right?

Rabah: [00:01:48] Yeah. You hit the table. Soul-sucking Vegas. No. The only actually Vegas game I like to play is craps. One, because I like the boy math of, like, oh, it's the only game that you actually have an advantage against the house for the odds. But it's also like I don't know. When I'm gambling, it's basically pain for entertainment. I don't have any inclination that I'm going to make money. And so craps if you get around, like, a hot craps table, it's a fun, crazy vibe, whereas, like, blackjack and all these things, everything's so serious.

Phillip: [00:02:20] Very serious.

Rabah: [00:02:21] Yeah. That's not my scene as much. What about you?

Phillip: [00:02:24] I've gambled maybe three or four times total in my life, and my total lifetime winnings, I have beat the house. So I called myself. I said, "I'm going to quit while I'm ahead." But you know what I've never played, and it ties into today's theme of Decoded. I've never played roulette.

Rabah: [00:02:43] Oh really?

Phillip: [00:02:43] Yeah.

Rabah: [00:02:45] Oh, the roulette's a fun one. When I was a kid, I used to live in Phoenix, and my dad worked for the airlines. He was an avionics engineer, and we would fly to Vegas when there were standby flights, and he would always go this is back... Because I'm old. This is back when you didn't have to cash in your chips for money or money for chips. You could just put proper money on the table.

Phillip: [00:03:06] Oh, yeah.

Rabah: [00:03:07] He would just put a $100 on black or red. And if it hit, we'd go to fancy dinner that night. If it didn't, we'd hit up the burger joint. So that's my roulette memories.

Phillip: [00:03:17] Oh, that's a great memory. My memory of roulette is the opening scene of Empire Records, which is an old movie where he gets himself into trouble because he tries to save the record store by betting all of the money in the safe on black, and it did not work out in his favor. Today we'll talk a little bit about the actual inventor of the game of roulette is a really interesting guy. He's a mathematician, physicist, and a serial inventor. His name is Blaise Pascal, but the thing that I want to also lean on today is that he's best known for being the king of one liner quotes, which in my mind, had he been born not in 1654, he would be a Twitter god. And I want to geek out on him today. I'm sure you've heard the name Pascal at some point in physics or engineering or something. I'm sure.

Rabah: [00:04:13] Yeah. Yeah. I was actually an engineering major for two years before I switched to economics. So very familiar.

Phillip: [00:04:21] I don't want to put you on the spot. Pascal is a unit of measure. Do you remember what it measures?

Rabah: [00:04:28] Oh my gosh. You are putting me on the spot. Pascal, it was energy, I believe. Right? No?

Phillip: [00:04:33] A form of energy.

Rabah: [00:04:34] Yeah. Yeah. Form of energy. Power perhaps? Was it? No. That was watts.

Phillip: [00:04:39] Oh, oh, oh, you're close.

Rabah: [00:04:40] I'm close. It's not current because that's amp. Resistance is ohms.

Phillip: [00:04:48] A Pascal is a unit of pressure.

Rabah: [00:04:53] Pressure. Ahhh

Phillip: [00:04:54] Pressure.

Rabah: [00:04:55] PSI. Oh, man. Per square inch. Let's go. Okay. Yeah. Phillip 1. Rabah 0.

Phillip: [00:05:01] Yeah. So Pascal  most famous for, I mean, you're in the, like, you're in god tier mode of these sort of polymathic inventor mathematician physicist types if you have a unit of measure named after you. And I'm sure somewhere some engineer is cursing Blaise Pascal but today, I wanted to unpack a few of the things that make him really important, some of which is that sometimes you have to gamble. So sometimes we have to take educated gambles and take some risks in the role of marketing and in the role of our job. But also his ability to distill complex ideas into concise impactful statements is also a skill that marketers can and should aspire to, especially today when our attention spans are so short. So I thought we would dive into that to begin with here today.

Rabah: [00:05:59] I love it. Lead the way. At first, you had my curiosity. Now you have my attention.

Phillip: [00:06:06] {laughter} So let's start with our universal challenge, which is in the world that we live in right now, fundamentally, everybody is distracted or preoccupied all of the time. And so the job of the marketer is trying to get out in front of that. Blaise Pascal had this incredible quote. We will mention a bunch of them here today but his most famous quote that you're going to see on Instagram where it's often pictured in front of some sort of, like, book or some other sort of, like, bookish thing is this. "All of humanity's miseries stem from man's inability to sit in a quiet room alone," and I feel this to my very core. I cannot sit quietly in a room alone. How about you, Rabah?

Rabah: [00:06:53] I can, but to be fair, it's a function of my stoicism and quasi Buddhism because one of the things there's a old Buddhist joke where if you don't have 10 minutes to sit, you should sit for 20. And I also think that [00:07:11] a lot of magic happens when you allow yourself to be bored. I actually think that's when really interesting things come about. [00:07:20] And so I think that has definitely been one of the drawbacks, not to get too macro, of hyperconnectivity is people aren't okay with being bored anymore. And that's something that I believe can get you down pathways that you just chase not the best or most fulfilling answer. And I think that's a big challenge that not only we see in life, but also bringing it back to the podcast, in marketing where how can you show people how you can generate value for them while keeping their attention, while keeping them entertained. It's just compounding over and over again. And, also, you can see the change in the form factor. If you look at the OG Ogilvy ads, when somebody was reading the magazine, you kind of had them. You know what I mean? So as long as you could hook them in, you just had so much more surface area to actually exude and tell the story versus now I mean, shameless plug with FERMÀT. Now that's really what we're trying to do at FERMÀT, whereas if you think of the ad or content almost as the hit line or the quip that Pascal would say, and then the landing page or the post click experience can actually unveil this story and be able to give you all these pieces to then understand, do I know this person, like this person, trust this person? And if you can accomplish all three of those, normally that person is going to transact with you.

Phillip: [00:08:53] Let me ask you this. Do you believe in always on marketing, or do you believe in moments, or is there somewhere in between?

Rabah: [00:09:00] We might be saying the same thing different ways, but, one, it definitely depends on your business. So for nuance, for me, when I was previously at Triple Whale, I tried to run Triple Whale like a direct response org. And I quickly realized that was absolutely not the path. And then I shifted into a new kind of thesis where I think B2B SaaS marketing in specific high ticket B2B SaaS, which is where I'm at now, is more about omnipresence and moments. And so what I mean by that is omnipresence is I want to be everywhere so everybody knows who I am, more of like a CPG brand where I'm just everywhere. And I'm in that person's decision set, ideally the top decision in that decision set. So when that person is ready to consume, we're like, "Oh my gosh. I really want to step up my marketing game." Or, "Oh, man. I really need to figure out how to make a more cohesive journey." Or, "Oh, man. I want to make more of these bets, but I don't want to pay $10,000 every landing page. How can I make more of these bets?" That's where, when they're ready to consume, they think FERMÀT. And so I think there's essentially three stages. You go from problem aware, solution aware, product aware. And so that's where the omnipresence comes in, where I want to be everywhere. To be fair, if you can run a direct response, DTC does not need to be, like, Nike or when you get to these huge, huge brands, that's where they really don't care about performance. They care about reach and impressions and being just everywhere same with, like, Tide or whatever. But if you're a smaller DTC brand, I don't recommend. This is more through the lens of B2B SaaS. And then in terms of moments, I think moments are really important, not only because they can be these little awareness bombs where you can start to get these second, third order effects, but it also gives people a reason to purchase. And so I think purchasing moments are actually more applicable to DTC than the omnipresence strategy, but I think you need both. I think you need the omnipresence. And what I mean by omnipresence is don't think of it as a quota of things. Everything needs to be rooted in generating value for the end user. And so [00:11:05] when people ask me how much I should post on social media, yada yada, that's not the right question. The question is, how many times can I post while generating value? [00:11:14] And if that's only one time a week, that's fine. But you don't want to get into this... It's almost the social contract that you're building with your audience where you're like, "If I'm not going to read this or consume this," and that's when I think the things about kind of a little tangent on hiring. I think hiring somebody that knows the customer is a better bet than hiring somebody that knows the product or the space. And so I'm basically the ICP, so I know that all this stuff going out, if I wouldn't read it, it's not going to be quality, and we should not post it. But that's how I think of omnipresence and purchasing moments.

Phillip: [00:11:46] This is really, really good because your perspective as a marketer and having a number of roles and a number of different styles of business over your career, you know, I think you are kind of trying to attract more folks like yourself. Right? So it's like you have an archetype of a kind of a buyer, and you have adapted yourself to put yourself in the shoes of that archetype, and that's awesome. What I'm also feeling is that if you're indexed too heavily to one side of the equation or other, the mathematicians like to balance the equation, on the other side of the equation of moments is what happens when a moment fails. That is a gamble. So when you put a lot of effort into planning, let's say, a big event or when you've put a lot of effort into a big marketing push or big feature launch, those things inevitably at some point in your career will fail, and that's kind of like betting it all on black. How do you hedge your bets in the DTC marketing seat? And then maybe let's talk about your experience in the B2B SaaS seat.

Rabah: [00:12:57] Fantastic question. I think so there's a great book by Annie Duke called Thinking in Bets, and I think a better perspective or the way I run things is to be, and shout out to all the scientists that we've been doing, is more of a scientific method. So not a win or fail or a good or a bad, but more so, okay. Here's my thesis. Here's what I think is going to happen. Here's what did happen, and then okay. Cool. What happens in the book, Thinking in Bets, there's a great verb she has called resulting. And a lot of people will result, and they basically just reverse engineer from the outcome. And so the whole point of why that's not great is because you really ideally want to build systems. And if you're building a system that has an 80% success rate and a 20% failure rate, if that system doesn't hit, it's not necessarily a fail. It's just like, hey, how many people won't take a 90 10 or 80 20 bet? Right? That's a really good bet to take. And sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you, but you don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And so I think for me, it's more about, is this thesis sound? Okay. Cool. And if this thesis is sound, what do you think is going to happen? Okay. Cool. From what you think is going to happen, then I will resource that bet and this is taking moonshots off the table because moonshot is essentially I know I'm going into this thinking I'm going to lose all of it, but it could be an asymmetric hit. Moon starts off the table, I think, you know, how many bets you take and the bet sizing is really the role of the CMO. Get momentum or keep momentum and then deploy capital efficiently and effectively. I think that's the two reasons why you hire a Head of Marketing or a CMO. And so that's where I would push back a little bit in the right and wrong and more in that thesis driven framework. I will say, though, you don't want lazy thesis, and you don't want to make the same mistakes twice.

Phillip: [00:14:56] What's an example of a lazy thesis?

Rabah: [00:14:59] I think that I'm going to write this landing page and ship this landing page, and it's going to drive x or y or z. It's not precise enough. I'm going to write a landing page on how to create the best ads. This is why... You just need to be precise in what you're trying to do. When you live in generalities, you can just hide. And I don't I think the best things happen when you have ownership and clear delineations of expectations. And, again, maybe those expectations won't be hit, but that's when you go back to that thesis driven framework of, like, okay. Was it a sound thesis? Yes. Was the system correct? Yes. And sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and that's not the point. The point is being able to layer on repeated success. And so I would much rather have somebody that can succeed all the time that hits base hits and singles than somebody that comes in and hits a home run every now and then, but is just wasting all my money. And, again, that's just personal preference.

Phillip: [00:15:56] No. No. No. I think it's really smart. So when you're balancing what some organizations may say effective goal setting around especially when it comes to developing new skills in an organization. We have not done this before. You have to set your goals appropriately so that you give yourself a long ramp to fail. And that is, I think  where a lot of marketers that I've met have been challenged is that they expect a return on a new channel investment or in a new program way too quickly. And that's where the channel investment becomes and looks like a gamble, especially if you give up before it ever has a chance to succeed. I think most of the time, you can fix that with better goal setting, but that requires... Where do you get that insight of what is a good goal? What is immeasurable? What's an appropriate goal? Does that come from your network? Does that come from people that you know? A stellar hire?

Rabah: [00:16:55] Yeah. Yeah. I think it comes from everywhere. I mean, at the end of the day, as my role as CMO and an org leader, all my goals are derivative of the company goals. So that is that. And then in terms of the expectation setting, yeah. I mean, I think at the end of the day, you just need to be transparent and understand, like, hey. We want to hit x, y, or z. And a lot of times too I found it might be useful to have basically three lenses to look through on the expectations where you have a pessimistic lens. Like, man, if we hit this, we accomplished it, but we're not happy. So that's x. If we hit y, that's kind of a neutral goal where it's like, okay. Cool. There's opportunities to grow here. And then if we hit zed, that's the  optimistic goal. And so you can kind of have this spectrum of performance that you can land in, and then I think also when you're thinking about these bets so, personally, I'd rather make more small bets and then prove out success and then scale those bets than make one... It's almost honestly like the inverse of [00:18:02] investing. In investing, you actually would rather be right once or twice really heavy. Whereas in marketing, it's the opposite. I want to figure out where I'm right and use it almost more of as experimentation to palpitate the elephant. And then when I do find a really awesome well to dig, then I'm going to put more rigs on that land and then keep doing that. [00:18:23] And so when I do think about these bets and when marketers think about campaigns, there is a certain aspect of, okay. Cool. What's the longevity of this? If this actually does work, can I scale it up? Or is this going to be, you know, a flash in the pan where it's just this product launch or whatever, which is totally fine. But that type of thinking can then help you understand how you should set those expectations. And, again, I'm also a big proponent of the expectations and impact. Your resources should be a function of that. You don't want to resource something that's not going to have a lot of impact.

Phillip: [00:18:59] This season we have explored that humans are irrational, and building singular experiences for them as a marketer might itself also be an irrational pursuit. And throughout this conversation, we found that while deep expertise can drive innovation and mastery in specific fields, it often blinds us to the broader wisdom that interdisciplinary understanding can offer. By studying these prolific thinkers, like Blaise Pascal, we understand that creation and innovation comes at the intersections of many fields of knowledge and not just deep silos of specialization. And this journey has told us the truth about our human condition, that we are irrational, and our biases towards specialization can limit our view of the bigger picture. In the words of Pascal, "The heart has it's reasons, which reason knows not." I feel like we're also in more Blaise Pascal territory. He had a killer tweet. Let's call it a killer tweet. He said, "It's the fight alone that pleases us, not the victory." Is that true of marketers? That there's a victory is one thing, but it's really the fight. You're in it for the fight because you love the game. Is that true or false?

Rabah: [00:21:37] You know, I think this is definitely super subjective. It's going to be different for everybody. But I think for most marketers, they enjoy that scientific method of building the system in a process and seeing that it works out. Like, oh, I have a hypothesis that this messaging and this ad copy and this asset will absolutely smash. And then you run ads behind it, and you're like, oh my gosh. It did work. And so, yeah, I think the process, even most scientists, if you look at all the crazy stuff that's been discovered, almost 90% of it was not actually what was being researched, whether it's Viagra, champagne, penicillin.

Phillip: [00:22:15] The holy trinity.

Rabah: [00:22:16] Yeah. {laughter} The holy trinity. That's amazing, but there's this old joke where everybody's always like, "Oh, the craziest stuff is discovered," and then the scientist goes, "Aha." And it's not true. The scientist goes, "Oh, that's weird." That's the majority of things, and they understand, and so it's also kind of to Blaise Pascal as well where I think, obviously time bound, but [00:22:45] having intersectional knowledge gets really, really interesting. And you can bring in all these different things. That's when you can really find some big unlocks. It's not when you're just hammering down one really small lane, [00:22:59] but when you can be more of this Bruce Lee absorb what's useful, discard what's useless type of thing.

Phillip: [00:23:06] Let's talk about this one is sort of divisive. He has a banger tweet. "Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary and great minds with the ordinary." Are we too focused, in ecommerce DTC space, with gigantic outcomes and big visible wins as opposed to base hits?

Rabah: [00:23:35] I'm going to give you a non answer answer. I think, yes. But I think the dirty secret is the base hits are what... Aggregating those small wins, but when you look at it zoomed out, it seems like it's this one... There's that, again, old joke of overnight success 10 years in the making, where it's just very hard to find flashes in the pan. And the other thing is you never want to be a trend or a fad. You want to be starting something that is...

Phillip: [00:24:08] It's true.

Rabah: [00:24:08] And, again, goals, if you're a dropshipper or whatever, whatever the goal is. But if the goal is to build a sustainable brand that becomes profitable, layering on small pieces of success will actually aggregate to this big success versus launching an iPhone or something. Apple will never ever reach the success of another iPhone. I will die on that hill. But that doesn't make them a horrible company. They're printing money hand over fist, and they're doing a bunch of really interesting things. And so I think people can get caught up in a little bit of ball watching where you're just like, "Oh my gosh. That was such an incredible thing," where at the end of the day, what went into that was probably very boring, mundane, a bunch of little steps that then aggregates into this ultimate success. And so some of the best advice I got was the most incredible people show up every day in their average. And then eventually, you just start the skill set flywheel of, like, okay. You did it. Now you did it, and you're better at it. You're better at it. And people compliment you, you like compliments, so you're going to do it. You do it more. You get better at it. You get more compliments, and you just start this skill acquisition flywheel. And so I think that's, for me, a better take on that than just, you know, gawking at Shopify screenshots and stuff. It's very akin to an Instagram, right, where it's mostly people's highlight reels. And then again, you never see people posting profit. You only see top line stuff. So you don't know how much that revenue cost. You don't know the economics of the business, etcetera. So I think it's good to understand and see what's going on in the ecosystem and have that. But Bezos has a great line where when he was asked about competitors, he says, "I don't care about my competitors. My customers give me money. My competitors don't." And I think that's a better tact on you want to keep a pulse on things, but at the same time, you don't want competitors,  dictating your product road map or your business strategy. That should be coming from the CEO, the founder, etcetera. Or that's my thesis at least.

Phillip: [00:26:10] You prefaced something earlier with it's all subjective. I think it truly is all subjective, but I think in that, it's all subjective that means the subjectivity itself becomes objectivity. Everybody has their own context that nobody else can understand. Blaise Pascal, great great Tweeter. He says, "You always admire what you really don't understand." And what I've found is it's kind of that thing of any sufficiently advanced technology would be magic to a less advanced society. I feel like there's a lot of magic that we attribute to certain brands and their ability to execute in certain ways. It's less magical having been on the inside of a couple of those. It always feels less exciting. So from your perspective, when you're thinking about the nature of being in an organization, especially a high growth organization, what are some of the differentiators around normalizing your perspective of other people's success relative to your own?

Rabah: [00:27:23] Man, that's such an interesting question. I would also push back obviously, love Blaise, but I think that quote can go one or two ways. It can be either admired or feared. And I think depending on your intellectual capacity and curiosity, things you don't understand are actually very, very scary versus admirable. So if back in the day, people would sacrifice a bunch of cows or people even, not to get morbid, because there were thunderstorms, and they thought they made some person in the sky really mad. You know what I mean? That's not admiring the incredible mother nature. That's being scared that they pissed somebody off that was more powerful. With that being said, I'm not a big ego guy. I think at the end of the day for me, I try and control what I can control. I'm a big internal locust guy, and I'll tell myself, you know, like, what have I done today to insulate myself from poverty? How am I constantly sharpening the sword? I think people fail for two reasons. One, they don't knock on the door of the universe long enough. Like you were saying earlier, they they leave kind of the lily pad experiment if anybody's familiar. And then, the second reason they fail is when the universe does answer, they're not prepared. And there's a great Winston Churchill quote that basically paraphrases... I'm paraphrasing, but it's one of my favorite quotes where he says, you know, "How much of a let down it would be that the whole thing that you were built for, preparing for, you were born for, etcetera, and that moment arises and you're unprepared." And so that just sticks in my head where I think, you know, wherever you're at in your career, you always need to be sharpening your sword and being able to figure out different ways to create value. But too, I'm a huge capitalist, but at the end of the day, I think that this life's about cultivating deep connections with humans you care about. And so I think making sure that you don't lose. I had a really good buddy of mine that had a great line when I was kind of super successful and quasi empty inside. And he said, "Dude, you gotta remember what the money's for." And that sticks with me a lot.

Phillip: [00:29:31] That's really deep.

Rabah: [00:29:34] Deep. I know. We went deep. Bring us back. Bring us back.

Phillip: [00:29:38] The issues that I have with the state of this particular type of industry, like tech enabled retail, digital commerce is that, you know, if you would have asked someone five years ago, what is ecommerce, they would probably tell you a website, www dot something. You ask somebody today what is ecommerce, and that means whatever the context in that business is. It could mean social commerce, it could mean TikTok shop. It could be website, but it most likely is Amazon. And that's where there is a lot of general knowledge to be had, and future proofing yourself in your career has to also be prioritized against future proofing your business and the role that you're playing in the business that you're working in at the moment. So how do you stay on top of those changes? And as part of that coming back to this idea of taking strategic bets as part of that, you know, prioritizing  being experimental, especially around things that look like they're fringe or they're emergent and not necessarily a best practice formed playbook yet?

Rabah: [00:30:49] Yeah. No. Fantastic question, for me, I just love this stuff. So I think that's one of the things that can make things a little easier where I just enjoy economics, commerce, culture, "Commerce is Culture." Zing. Show title. So I guess, advice there is, you know, find what you're good at and what you love and try and stay in that zone of genius. I think [00:31:18] one of the worst pieces of advice people give, or I was given was make your weaknesses into strengths. Like, dude, if you are freaking awesome at marketing, but you hate spreadsheets, don't go and make spreadsheets your world. You don't gotta go be a banker. I will say you need to make those weaknesses nonexistential threats. They can't be existential threats to the system. But once you get them to that place, focus on what you're great at. Stay in your zone of genius. Not only will it be more rewarding, you're going to do it better, and you're going to do it more because you actually enjoy it. [00:31:51] And so that would be kind of why I stay up to date on so much stuff is in my, you know, leisure time as economics call it, I get to read stuff. I like essays. I like things like that. And so I think being profoundly curious about the space that you're in is just an absolute superpower. And if you're not, that's okay. But figure out what you are curious in because eventually it just sucks shoveling shit when you don't like it. When you don't like something, problems are problems. When you like something, problems are opportunities. And that sounds like a semantic shift, but it it it really is just, for me anyways, a better place to be. And, again, like, in my early parts of my career, I shoveled shit. I had to do it. You have to do what you have to do when you have to do it.

Phillip: [00:32:38] Of course.

Rabah: [00:32:39] But at the same time, use the knowledge of, like, okay. Cool. Well, I'm going to better myself every day. And, eventually, it happens slower than you think and faster than you think. And so that's what I would say to keeping up with the times and things like that. And then in terms of the strategy of how I think of strategy, ultimately, this is a little different than DTC, but in B2B SaaS, we do everything in quarters because a month is just too small to see impact on the business. So we'll do everything in quarters. So I'll basically plan out my year, but only really plan out quarter to quarter. So I'll have kind of what I want to do that whole year, and then I have kind of little frameworks that I use of I want to have x tentpole feature. I want to have y event. I have this whole system that we won't get into. So I go through that system and I map everything out, but I only really map out in detail that upcoming quarter because you just don't know what's going to happen. And so it's nice to have a plan, but at the same time, like the old Mike Tyson, "Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the face." That's a real thing. You know? You don't know what happened, what's going to happen with the market, with capital, with hiring. There's all these things that you want to be careful about extrapolating out too far. And so that's basically how I think of strategy where I'll take all these things. I'll synthesize them in through the brand lens, and then I know what I want my distribution to be. I know what my budget is. And then, you know, you get into Excel, and you start moving some numbers around. You take that budget. You pitch that budget to your finance person, and then the finance person clears it. And then you pitch the events and the things that you want to do with your boss. And then you run, and then you execute. So I think the challenge is if you have too many idea people and not enough execution or too much execution, not enough idea, you can get caught in this weird place of if you're all idea people, you have this whiteboard of awesomeness, but nothing gets done. And then if you have all execution people, you just have a bunch of people in the backyard digging holes because it's like, they just want to work. And so you need a nice balance of both, and that's what, I think I mean, hiring is so hard, but hiring is, at the end of the day, your company is a product of your employees.

Phillip: [00:34:49] Oh. Yes.

Rabah: [00:34:49] It is what it is. Good ideas don't matter. Good people do. Do you know why? Because ideas actually come from people. And so hiring's hard, but it is the lifeblood of an organization.

Phillip: [00:35:02] I I couldn't agree anymore. And that's why I feel like when we started out this series, I asked you if you'd read Range, by the other Epstein. The question being is it a benefit to have people who have generalist tendencies and are naturally curious about many things in the world, and does that give them a creative edge? And one of the cases that we've made throughout the series is each of the people that we're looking at are all very polymathic and multitalented, have many areas of exam and study. Here's one more quote I'll drop on you from our buddy, Pasqui, from Pascal. It's "Since we cannot know all that there is to be known about anything, we ought to know a little about everything." And I feel very simpatico with this idea of understanding how if there is such a thing as a customer journey, understanding all of the things that affect the context of the customer and where you fit in their life and working your absolute ass off so that you fit into that perfectly at exactly the right time, the only way to do that is to build a team, I think, that has this natural curiosity about the world. And it does have to be really well balanced so that people actually get things done, and you're not just curious, but you actually turn that curiosity into outcomes. What do you think?

Rabah: [00:36:32] I'll push back a little bit, but I totally agree with pretty much all of it. I think and this is just from my vantage point and my experience. I think it's really awesome to be very curious and poke around in a bunch of things when you're younger. But then I think you eventually want to make some bets. And so the reason why that has helped me out, as CMO, is I pretty much done everything, man. I've built websites. I've done photography. I've done design. And so what that allows me to do is talk in the language that that department speaks, but, again, that depends on what your goals are. Like, if you just want to be a really highly compensated IC, you don't need to know everything.

Phillip: [00:37:15] Sure.

Rabah: [00:37:16] And the other thing too I would caution is, generalists are great at the beginning, but the problem with generalists is they don't have the output of optimized people, but they can do everything. So if you need a handyman, a generalist is the best. But if you need a heart surgery, a generalist isn't great.

Phillip: [00:37:38] Sure. Yeah.

Rabah: [00:37:38] And so as your company progresses, I think generalists are great, but they either get, a) elevated into leaders, b) get specified and become this t shaped employee that actually can go deep on something, or, c) here's a few months severance and keep the laptop, and thank you. I'm more of the thing of maybe what got you to x might not be the people that get you to y. The one thing I will say is I will fight for talent. So if you are super talented, I will bend over backwards to figure out, are there ways that you drive value for the company that I can move you into a different role?  But in terms of general stuff, I think it's brilliant. Wrapping it all up, too long didn't read, start as a generalist, and then figure out, do you want to be a leader? Do you want to be a specialist? What do you want to end up being? And then trot the path that way. But Slumdog Millionaire is a perfect example. Go watch that movie. Being a generalist.

Phillip: [00:38:42] One of the interesting perspectives here in bringing this all home is everything that we've covered here in a very cherry picked conversation around some of the insights is that having really clear and concise communication, being able to distill very  big ideas into a compressed amount of space is both the job of the marketer and the philosopher. But it also can create incredible amount of discourse and in a stream of idea and beliefs and agreement and disagreement on those small compressed nuggets. And I think that one thing we can learn here is that whether you agree or disagree with these points of view, the greatest thing that can come out of it is long and considered conversation around these things that ultimately, I think, do have importance and they do matter in the world. Everybody's going to have a different take on these things. What's really important is how you take your position on it and you apply it in your current circumstance, your role, and your context.

Rabah: [00:39:52] So well put.

Phillip: [00:39:54] Pour one out for Mr Pascal. Been dead 300 years. He's under a lot of pressure.

Rabah: [00:40:02] {laughter} Oh, man. You had to. You walked right into that. Unbelievable, you are.

Phillip: [00:40:07] Yet another legend of engineering, science, mathematics, arts, and philosophy. What a rad dude. And we hope to see you back here for the last and final episode. It'll be live, you and me sitting down with your boss of all people once again at South by Southwest. So I can't wait to do that.

Rabah: [00:40:26] Yeah. Absolutely. And one last thing, the best quote, and you saved it for last. Perfect. I will say this is a quote, Blaise Pascal, and I love it. "Kind words do not cost much, yet they accomplish much." So I would say, again, I'm a hardcore capitalist but go be a good person today. Go help somebody out today. I was so fortunate that people helped me on my come-up, and every time that I can pay it forward, I try and do the same. So I think if we can get more people with that attitude, we just build this beautiful ecosystem of awesomeness, and everybody prospers.

Phillip: [00:41:04] Next time on Decoded.

Rabah: [00:41:09] Well, I think the too long didn't read is your website should be amazing. But the thing about your website is it's going to be in the middle because you can't have on the extremes because the whole point of the website is to convert as many people as possible.

Rishabh: [00:41:22] I actually think the restaurant industry does this super well. So restaurants are like Taco Bell in specific considering we talked about Taco Bell earlier today, they test things in Ohio, they test things in certain geographies, and they take massive risk when they test those things. You take big risk and you do it in places where you get a good enough understanding of how people are going to react to it, and then if it works, then you just keep going.

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