From the Front Lines to CEO: How this Leader Leveraged his Experience - w/ Paul Katzoff
Paul Katzoff is the CEO of WhiteCanyon Software, the premier provider of data erasure software for SSD, Hard Drive, & Mobile Device platforms to global organizations of all sizes. Paul originally started at the company in a Tech Support role, before coming the Manager of Tech Support and eventually switching to Sales. After a two-year hiatus from the company, Paul rejoined as the CEO.
On this episode of the Strategy & Leadership Podcast, Paul joins us to discuss how his perspective changed at different levels of the company, his process for sharing expertise and personal development, and much more.
Is your team having a strategy session soon? Make sure you're asking the right questions first:
Here's a breakdown of our conversation:
How his perspective changed from the bottom, to the top, & in-between
As a member of tech support, Paul described his role to be mainly about fulfilling tasks.. emptying the bucket of tasks day in and day out. Once he moved into sales, he realized it was a lot more difficult to measure his success. He had quotas, but it was less clear whether he was doing a good job or not on a daily basis. His aim at the time was to make the customer feel comfortable and prove the legitimacy of the small company, which in turn led decision makers to buy with more confidence. Once he reached CEO, he had the time to step back and look at what was getting in their way, find new ways to improve, and make decisions driven by the market.
How his changing roles & relationships with customers impacted the strategy
Paul learned from his time in sales just how hard it is to keep current clients. As a salesperson, you develop some anxiety about losing clients that you've worked so hard to sign. Paul decided to harness that experience and make renewal rates one of his top priorities. And when it comes to growth, Paul likes to continuously look for 'new watering holes'. By constantly asking "what have we not tried?", he encourages his people to look for new opportunities.
His process for sharing expertise with the team
Paul acknowledges that it's very easy to negate training, delay training, or push it to once a month. He believes in persistent training for the sales team and tech support. For his sales team, they frequently review phone calls as a team, grading them along the way. This is a win-win. Not only does it increase accountability, but the sales reps love the friendly competition, and recognize your deliberate effort to bring the best out of everyone.
How he continues to develop his own capabilities as CEO
"If an organization is not doing well, it's management's fault.. always".
Paul explains how it's easy to get siloed as a CEO.. managers and employees always giving you a 'yes', along with people hesitating to point things out to you. At the end of the day, if the results aren't matching what they should be, that's a red flag that you aren't doing the continuous learning on your side. To stay continuously learning, Paul owes a lot to his quarterly board meetings, but also spends time with blogs, podcasts, news articles and other websites in order to learn how other people are doing things.
Have you considered using a facilitator for your next strategic planning session - to make sure it's done right?