{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: After Action Reviews and Branding Lessons

{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: After Action Reviews and Branding Lessons

In this episode, Katie and Chris take a stroll down memory lane to look at old reports the company did in 2018. What lessons have we learned that apply to marketing, analytics, and communicating results today? Learn about lessons for professional development and how personal branding can apply to your marketing. Tune in to find out!

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn 0:02

This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast.

In this week’s in In-Ear Insights, you ever dig up, like an old high school or college yearbook and flip through the photos like, Oh, that’s kind of cringy fashion from whatever year or decade that was, and things like that.

And it just provides those moments of ha, that’s things that things have changed a lot.

One of the things we were doing last week, while we were preparing for relaunching a website and building case studies and stuff was digging through old reports that we put together for clients Now, now, years ago, around when the company was first founded.

And I had a similar experience looking at one report we did for food and beverage company going, ooh, I could have done that better.

Katie, when you’re doing stuff like that, when you’re looking back, when you’re doing after action reviews in general, particularly ones like this, where it’s, you know, it’s like opening up a time capsule.

What do you how do those things make you feel and what is sort of the insights that you look for in how you’ve evolved in the company’s evolved in such a long period of time?

Katie Robbert 1:11

Well, I should probably start by saying that my fashion evolution has not evolved at all, considering today, I’m wearing a T shirt, and a flannel shirt, I am dressed exactly the same way I was dressed in high school.

So that hasn’t changed at all.

Um, but you know, when you when I look at some of the stuff that we started with, it doesn’t make me cringe.

It just sort of makes me think, you know, what, we were trying our best, and we didn’t know what we didn’t know them.

And I think if I look back at that, and saw we were doing things the exact same way today, so many years later, then I might start cringing because it would mean that we weren’t learning from stuff, and we weren’t evolving, and we weren’t trying to continually improve and do better.

So I don’t get the same cringy like, Oh, my God, what are we doing moment, unless we haven’t changed anything at all.

And that’s when I start to go, okay? What’s stopping us from feeling like we can do better.

So for example, this week, we’re in the process of launching a new website.

So our messaging is evolving, our branding is evolving, and we’re starting to pull it all together.

When I look back at the logo and the branding that we started with, if we were still using that today, that might be a different UI.

It doesn’t look modern.

But we when we started, we were just like, Okay, this is good enough.

So that’s the way I look at it.

When I look back at past stuff we’ve done even, you know, the way we were talking about something writing about something, you know, the concepts that we were trying to explain and the way that we were explaining them.

At that point in time.

I think that they were appropriate.

And I think that they were correct, we just again, we didn’t know what we didn’t know yet.

Christopher Penn 3:04

I was looking back at, you know, these reports from 2018.

So this is just after the founding of the company, the first few months of business.

And the thing that stuck out to me was in the techniques and the tactics that we were using to build these insights.

It really brought back a lot of memories of where we had been previously.

And how little time we had to invest in professional development and training.

You know, I was looking at a little, again, this one food beverage report and you know, some of the text mining stuff, and now looking back at it like oh, that’s totally not the right way to do you know, that particular type of mining, we did it using a network graph, and we should have been using like, Well, today, we would use like a linear SVM model to sort of separate the wheat from the chaff because it was a lot of chaff in in that report.

But that was a consequence of, you know, at the company, we used to work at 100% of our time during the 40 Hour Workweek was dedicated towards mostly meetings in sales.

And so there was no time to set aside to say, Okay, well, we need a couple hours a week to learn how to do, you know, support vector machines to learn how to do gradient boosting models and stuff, which are all, you know, these fancy machine learning and statistical techniques.

But we didn’t have that time.

And now, three years later, we’ve made the time we have the ability to say we’re going to make the time to do this.

And we have these new techniques, new tactics and stuff like that, that make it more capable.

If you’re somebody who works at a company where they’re not willing to make the time.

How much of that should you be investing in yourself anyway, just like after hours.

Katie Robbert 4:49

It depends.

It depends on what you want out of your career.

If it’s just a paycheck, then maybe not maybe, you know, it’s just a means to an end, you know, and it just pays for For everything else in your life that you’re passionate about.

So I think it really, you know, depends on the situation you’re in.

And it depends on what you want out of your career.

And so I do not believe that every single person needs to continue to advance in their career.

Not every single person needs, you know, consistent professional development.

And I say that because some people are exactly where they’re meant to be, some people are completely happy and satisfied, doing exactly what they’re doing.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the job itself isn’t going to evolve and change.

And that they won’t learn new things.

But they don’t need to necessarily go out of their way to you know, step out of the box, and you know, learn all these new things that have nothing to do with their job to advance if they’re happy where they are.

So I think that, that, for me is the first caveat.

Now you and I, Chris, we’re never happy with what we had, we always wanted more, we wanted to do more things.

And we still want those things, we still want to do more than what we’re doing, even though now, you know, we own the company that we work for.

And so, that is a testament to who we are as individuals.

So we each individually, want to do more than what we’re doing.

So we make the time we make it a priority to invest in ourselves to learn more than what we know, now, I could just go sit back and go, you know what, I’m good.

I’m happy doing what I’m doing.

And I don’t need to think outside of what I’m doing.

I don’t need to learn more than this.

And that might be okay.

You know, we’ll find out in two years when I run up against a brick wall and don’t know anymore.

But you know, that’s my own personal choice.

So that’s sort of that’s my feeling on it.

But if you’re someone who works at a company who doesn’t necessarily get what they need in terms of learning and professional development, then it is that incumbent upon you to be self motivated to make time for it, maybe it’s not during work hours, maybe it’s after hours.

But you know, I don’t think there’s a magic, if you do it five hours a week or two hours a week or 10 hours a week, it really depends on what the thing is, and what your end goal is.

Christopher Penn 7:14

Right now, as you know, as we record, this is sort of the third quarter of 2021.

And very much as an employee’s market companies are trying to hire for pretty much anybody.

However, as all these things go in cycles, you know, you at some point, you’ll be an employer’s market again, and and vice versa.

The challenge with professional development training is that it’s not one of those things, it’s kind of like SEO, it’s not what goes up today, I’m gonna be professional about my training.

Or like you say, I’m going to go to the gym, it’s like, the one time this year you’ve gone to the gym, and you expect results immediately.

Whereas, you know, we know from a fitness perspective, now, that’s kind of something you got to do all the time, if you want to keep what you’ve gotten and improve.

And what I would be concerned about for the person who doesn’t necessarily feel that motivation is when it becomes an employers market, you’re like, crap, I need to hit the gym professionally, from professional development perspective.

And there’s been all this time we haven’t maybe you haven’t had to and stuff like that.

So how do you balance that person being happy and what they’re doing with helping them prepare for the eventuality that you want the job market may change or, you know, to your point, the job may totally change and they will no longer be qualified to do the job like a robot has taken over 80% of the tasks, and they need to be the one to now manage the robot kind of thing?

Katie Robbert 8:39

Well, I think again, it goes back to you know, it depends, it depends on what that individual wants, and depends on what the company needs.

And so, right now, it might be an employee’s market.

So you know, there’s, you know, more jobs than there are people applying for them.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to apply for everything.

And so if I were, if I were looking for a job right now, I would really try to challenge myself to focus and say, what is it that I really, really want to do, and focus my time there.

So if I had my sights set on, you know, just for example, if I had my sights set on working behind the scenes at at sea, for example, then I should probably, you know, make sure that I have certifications in e commerce and certifications in, you know, in Instagram and social media and those kinds of things, knowing sort of the inner workings of how a company like Etsy works.

And so I would need to focus my time and not try to be everything to everyone.

And I think that that sort of the general advice is, what is it that you want to do? So Chris, I know in your last newsletter, you were talking about how, you know you’re not very good at social media, for example.

Well, that’s okay.

That doesn’t mean okay.

So you’ve acknowledged you’re not great at Social media are you supposed to go out and get a Facebook certificate? No, because that doesn’t do anything to advance where you’re at right now, maybe down the line, you can make that decision.

But where you sit right now, getting more education, getting more advanced in social media isn’t going to do anything for you.

Because it’s not the kind of job that you’re interested in going after, it’s not the kind of job that you’re interested in doing.

So I do think that there is a lot of distraction when it comes to professional development.

We try to glom on to everything so that we can look like, you know, shiny and perfect on our resumes.

But to me, as someone who’s a hiring manager, it almost kind of feels like you have even less focus, like what is it that you really want to do? What is it that you’re really good at.

And so when you when we sort of flip the switch, and say it’s an employers market, and they’re looking for those highly specialized roles, what’s gonna happen to the generalist who’s tried to specialize in everything,

Christopher Penn 10:59

it reminds me of a thing that management consultant, David maister, used to say, he’s like, here’s our brochure with our 72 specialist to prove that, that we know nothing about any one particular thing.

Katie Robbert 11:10

It’s true, you can’t be everything to everyone.

Um, you know, it reminds me of when I was in high school, and one of my teachers was writing a college recommendation for me.

And, you know, he had said, She’s a jack of all trades, master of none.

And at the time, you know, that really hurt my feelings.

But looking back, you know, even though that was probably the wrong thing for him to be writing about me, he wasn’t wrong, I’ve always in my career been a bit of a jack of all trades.

And the reason for that is because I never knew what I wanted to do.

And it took me a long time to figure it out.

So I’ve always dabbled in a little bit of everything, but I was master of none of it, the only thing I’ve ever been 100% confident in is managing people.

So I finally found a place where I could hone that skill, and focus solely on that.

And you know, I’ll be the first to admit, like in the company, I’m not the strongest marketer, I’m probably I’m a decent writer, but not the strongest writer, but those are not the things that I necessarily need to bring to the table.

My role here now is to keep the trains running, keep people in line, and keep things moving forward, that you know, where I specialize.

And so if I were going to, you know, spend my time doing more professional development, it would be on things like organizational behavior, you know, team psychology, motivation, those kinds of things.

Christopher Penn 12:40

From that perspective, if you think about a company, like a person, and you know, every time we do a sales pitches is essentially a, you’re applying for a job and a lot of ways, right? How would you then describe what the company is, in terms of any person sets like I, as a person, I’m a data scientist, right.

And I know this, because it’s what I do professionally, but it’s also what I do personally.

I’ve spent time after hours writing code just for fun on like, hobbies and things that I do.

And it’s clear to me that that’s what I am.

So if I was to take that knowledge of who I am and what I do, I could if if I was looking for work, be very clear, okay, I’m applying for this, I’m applying for this, I can do this, etc, not apply, I’m not going to be a social media marketer, I’m not going to be this, you know, I’m going to be a marketing data scientist.

When we think about an organization, whether it’s your department, whether it’s your company brand as a whole, how do you get down to that level of clarity to say, this is what we do, this is how we know to apply for these jobs.

Katie Robbert 13:47

It’s a lot of self awareness.

And that’s, that’s a hard thing to come by.

And so you know, Chris, you are incredibly self aware, because you live and breathe data science, you, it’s your passion, it’s what you really enjoy doing.

Whereas I, I wouldn’t say I live and breathe the work that I do, but I inherently listen.

And I inherently learn about people and people management, and I do that, you know, I’m, I’m an observer.

I’m an introvert, and I observe a lot.

And so I found a way to use that in my professional career.

Um, you know, so I think it’s, like, step one is a lot.

It’s learning about who you are as a person, not the certifications that you’ve checked off.

And so I think that’s a big part of it is, you know, there was, you know, we talked about like that work life balance and those boundaries, and that’s all well and good, and that’s so really important, but you cannot inherently change who a person is.

And so I cannot inherently say okay, Chris, you are no longer going to be a data scientist in your free time.

You have to pick up juggling, or you have to learn watercolors or whatever the thing is, those don’t interest you.

If they did, you probably would have tried them already.

And so it’s the same with me.

Like, you can’t tell me Okay, Katie, in your free time.

It was That’s it, you have to learn to code like, I don’t want to, I’m not interested in that.

It’s not even like a like, you know, distant hobby of mine.

I just don’t want to do it.

And so I think that’s number one is number one, figure out who you are as a person.

And I think, you know, when we’re, when I’ve talked with friends of mine, who were looking for jobs, the big thing is, don’t focus just on the skills that you’ve learned.

Think sort of it that full 360 of a person is like worth the things that you enjoy doing.

So a friend of mine, actually one of my old bosses, but she became a super close friend of mine.

She went from being the director of the product management department to being a postpartum doula.

And that was the career switch.

Because she did that exact exercise, she put up all her posts of like, what do I enjoy? What don’t I enjoy? And when she looks at it all day, and she goes, I want nothing to do with working in the tech field, I actually don’t enjoy it at all.

I want to go help people deliver babies.

And so it was like, Where did that come from? But when you step back and look at who she was, as a person, it made complete sense.

And now she’s made a really great career out of it.

Christopher Penn 16:24

So if Trust Insights was a person, who would it be?

Katie Robbert 16:28

Oh, man, Chris, you got the hard hitting questions on a Monday morning dojo.

If Trust Insights, were a person, it would be an incredibly awkward person.

I don’t think it’s, you know, I think if I if I, okay, let me really focus for a second.

So if Trust Insights, were a person, it would be someone who spent a lot of time listening to what kinds of problems their friends were having their friends being the clients in this instance.

And instead of just immediately jumping to, well, salt, you can solve it this way, solve it this way, solve it this way, they would really say, Okay, tell me more about this problem.

Tell me more about it.

So they wouldn’t immediately jump to conclusions and solutions.

They’re the kind of friend who would really continue to listen for as long as possible, and then say, Are you just telling me because you need to unload on me, are you telling me because you want me to help you, if you want me to tell you to help you, I have some solutions that you can try, and you can trust me to do them.

Because I’ve done this before I know what I’m doing.

So when I think of Trust Insights, as a person, that’s the kind of person I think, you know, would sort of like form from the things that we do.

And the solutions would be? Well, you know, you’ve asked me to build a table.

The good news is, I’m a really skilled carpenter, I’ve done this 1000 times, so you’re going to get an excellent table, that’s gonna last a lifetime.

Christopher Penn 18:03

Okay, so if we know who we are, then what’s the next step in that process?

Katie Robbert 18:13

I mean, I don’t know where these questions are coming from this morning, Chris, but I’m trying my best here.

Christopher Penn 18:19

The reason I say that is because you know, from from a person’s perspective, once you know who you are, that you can figure out what jobs to apply for, like I should not apply for a Social Media Manager job would be a disaster.

I should not apply for community management job, it’d be it’d be a hilarious disaster.

I should probably not be on air talent, right? Yeah.

As always, I should be a data scientist, right? You should be a manager of people.

So if, if the company is this person that you know, this this data aggregate, then what should that person be doing? For for looking for work? Because when we think about it, that’s essentially it.

I see where you’re going, it’s like, Who are you? What do you do? And then what’s special about what you do? Nobody else can do is and you do that with your friends, right? You say like, you know, look at your LinkedIn profile, like your LinkedIn profile.

It reads like every other person I’ve ever read, like, I did this thing, like, cool.

So if we think about TrustInsights.ai, as that person that’s a good listener.

And that can be solution oriented when they’re not being a therapist, what should they be doing? Where should they be wishing TrustInsights.ai as a person be applying for jobs? So if

Katie Robbert 19:30

we think about, about that Trust Insights, you know, LinkedIn profile is the person so one of the things that I’m working on right now, which will go up on our, you know, Company Profile are those case studies.

So, you know, clear demonstrations of how we’ve listened to what the problem was offered solutions, solve that problem and got results.

Because really, if someone’s coming to you with a problem, and they want your help, they’re hoping for results, they’re hoping for you to actually solve that problem in a productive way.

And we Trust Insights the company and the person needs to demonstrate that we can do that.

And so we need to first demonstrate that we can do that.

And then we can say, okay, we’re open for business, we want to listen to what the problems you have, and we want to help you solve them.

And so we do that through some of the workshops that we do.

So we’ll take a common problem, like attribution analysis, for example.

And we will spend, we just did this last week, we’ll spend four hours explaining, here’s all the different components, here’s where it goes wrong.

Here’s what some of the solutions are, here’s the quick wins and the longer term things that you would need to do.

So we really try to dissect very common issues that people in our industry have, so that they can want number one, understand, Oh, you know what, this is the problem that I’m having, I see myself in this issue.

And then number two, okay, here’s what the solution is, I can either do this myself, or I can bring on my good friend Trust Insights to help me do this, because I know that they’re going to guide me through it and get me to the solution that I need.

Christopher Penn 21:13

When you think about that person, like helping your friend with, you know, that you’ve got, and they say, hey, Kati, my LinkedIn profile is a hot mess.

Can you help me out with this? What do you do to differentiate them? Because like, for example, when I think about what differentiates me I understand marketing really well.

I would say data science really well, I’m probably not, I’m definitely not the world’s best data scientist.

I’m definitely not the world’s best marketer.

But I joke that I’m a better marketer than any data scientist and better data scientists than a marketer, because it’s those two things together.

But I also know that I can learn stuff really quickly, and get up to speed and subject matters reasonably fast, not to the extent that you know, someone with who spent their life doing it.

But for example, when the pandemic first started happening, have followed a bunch of experts and learned really quick about things like immunology and stuff, again, not in any way, shape, or form close to being able to do it as a profession, but enough to know, essentially, what’s Bs and what’s not.

Please don’t eat horse medications.

So when you think about that Trust Insights person now and this and they and you know who they are, and you know what they do? How do you then say, Okay, well, what does this person do better than Accenture, or Deloitte or these other companies that all say they do the same thing? How do you help this person improve their LinkedIn profile?

Katie Robbert 22:34

Well, I guess the first question I would ask is, you know, if I’m talking to my friend, I would say, What have you done, that you’re really proud of? Tell me about a project that you did that you were really excited to work on start to finish, even if you only had like a small piece in that project.

And it’s really, you know, you can’t fake you can fake authenticity, but people figure it out pretty quickly.

And so you have to, again, sort of stay true to who you are.

So we’ve had this conversation for the company, you know, when we first started out, I think we tried to be a little bit of everything to everyone.

And then we’ve really over the years focused in on, we can solve a lot of problems.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean we should, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re the best at it.

And so we really not, not every day, but we really try to focus on here are the, you know, two or three things we do really, really well that, you know, we get really excited about.

And so I would say it’s highlighting that stuff.

So if I’m talking to one of my friends, and they’re like, well, I don’t know, you know, it’s like, Okay, well, it doesn’t have to be a work related thing.

Tell me about something you did, you know, on your own personal time that you know, you are really excited about doing and then sort of think of it that way.

And I think that it’s highlighting who the person is, as an individual, whether it’s work or not work related is really what helps them stand out.

And it’s the same thing that’s true for Trust Insights.

So, you know, maybe we’ve done things for ourselves that we haven’t necessarily done for other companies that we’re still really excited about.

And that we want to be like, Hey, we did this really cool thing over here, we think everybody should know about it, because we’re super excited about it.

And then you start to attract those like minded people who are like, yeah, I’m also really excited about that thing.

I don’t know what to do with it, but it’s really cool.

So let me tell my friend over here, who’s also really excited about this thing.

And so you start to organically, you know, grow that network network of like minded people, who are also, you know, really jazzed by the thing that you’re doing.

And so for me, that kind of authentic network building and bringing on the right people, is really where you start to see that success.

Because Yeah, we could, you know, pull data for anyone at any time.

But does that mean that it’s work that we value, does that mean it’s work that the client values and you know, the answer is, I don’t know.

Maybe they’re just checking a box and at the end of the day, yeah.

You can click that paycheck.

But did we feel good about the work that we did?

Christopher Penn 25:06

It’s really interesting that you mentioned that, and you walk through this process, because it’s the exact opposite of pretty much everything that we’ve encountered.

So and I mean this seriously, we’ve been through things, you know, category design, brand, positioning all these different exercises with multiple consultants over the years.

And they all start in reverse, like, Well, one of the things, you know, what’s the big idea? The the emphasis, and none of them ever started with the people? None of them ever start with? Who are you? And what are you passionate about? What have you done? And then what are the things that you’re proud of, and I feel like from a consulting process perspective, from an organizational brand development process, that’s a more sustainable way to go, especially if the people change.

You know, when we look back at the last few companies we worked with, when a company got acquired, the people changed.

And suddenly the company changed sometimes overnight, you know, to two or three companies ago, I remember right after acquisition, they flushed the whole executive suite.

And suddenly, it was a completely different company overnight.

Different service, different brands, different, everything, different ways of communicating.

And the company fell apart in terms of its brand promise, because the people were not there who who? impertinent we brought that that brand to life.

And so from a consulting perspective, I think it’s really interesting that you start with the people instead of all the things that every other traditional brand consultant starts with, which is not the people.

Katie Robbert 26:41

Well, you know it.

So there’s a really, you know, easy way to think about it.

So, you know, Chris, let’s, you know, we talked about this in terms of content creation and content marketing.

So let’s say we were both given the same assignment, we’re both asked to write about, you know, the new Google Analytics for, you know, we each are going to approach it differently, we’re each going to come up with a different piece of content around Google Analytics, four, because we have different perspectives, we have different point of views, we have different agendas when it comes to what we’re getting out of the system.

So even though we’re given the exact same assignment, you’re going to get two very different pieces of content.

And so if I can first understand, who are the players, who are the people writing this, then I’ll have a better sense of, Okay, if I know the kind of content that I need to get out of this, that I know who I need to ask to write this content, or maybe I want to see what the different individual perspectives are going to be.

And I think that so, you know, when we’ve gone through branding exercises before and worked at other companies, you’re absolutely right.

It didn’t start with the person.

And I think that when we started Trust Insights, we didn’t start with who we are, who Chris and Katie are.

And I think that so to the original question of that, you know, three years later, after action review, I would say that’s the biggest thing, we focused too much on the solutions.

And yeah, the solutions themselves haven’t evolved much.

But the approach and how we get there has evolved in that’s why our messaging has evolved.

That’s why our branding has evolved.

That’s why, you know, the kinds of services that we offer, the way in which we approach them has evolved.

That’s why, you know, we’ve started developing the five p change management framework that applies to every single thing we do.

And now when I look back, I don’t I don’t think, oh, man, why aren’t we doing it that way? We didn’t know.

Because you and I, as business owners have changed and grown so much whether or not we sit back and realize it, or we just go with it.

But what we’re doing is we’re taking everything we learned and applying it into the business because we are putting people first in the business.

Christopher Penn 29:03

And when I look back at those old reports and stuff, part of that cringe factor is because I recognize how much I myself as a person have changed since writing those those reports.

You know what, how much more I know now than I did then, oh, I should know that.

But I think it’s very interesting.

Because when we talk then to clients who are saying like, hey, how do I help my team write better content? It’s an interesting twist to say, well, who are the people? First, let’s understand the people because you could have a whole roster of people like yeah, guess what, you need a new roster people because these are not the people that can get the job done.

Katie Robbert 29:40

And that’s exactly it.

And, you know, we, I know you’d like to say like, replace all the people’s robots, but we are pretty far from that, for a lot of the kinds of companies that we work with.

And if you don’t think about the people first, the rest of the stuff just won’t come together.

And that’s where you know, we were talking about Again, we were talking about this last week with the attribution modeling.

You can have, you know, the most advanced, you know, code and model and pristine data.

But if you don’t have the people to execute it, to do something with it to understand it, it doesn’t matter because it’s just going to sit there.

Christopher Penn 30:17

Job is just a decoration.

So, the the key lesson after three years is, it always comes down to the people because they are the people who work at the company and who make the company what it is.

And if you’re not looking, if you look back and things haven’t changed, it’s probably an indication that you’ve got a people problem in some way.

And so, if you’ve got questions about what we’ve talked about in today’s episode, and want to discuss it or ask questions about your own company, or brand or things like that, and how you’re working with the people you have, pop on over to our free slack group go to TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash analytics for marketers.

Marketers read over 1900 other folks are talking about marketing and analytics and stuff all day long.

And if you’re aware of this, you’re watching or listening to this show.

If you want to get on a platform of your choice, chances are we supported go to Trust insights.ai slash ti podcast to get the show wherever it suits you best.

Thanks for tuning in.

We’ll talk to you next time.

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