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North Star Leaders Podcast

Elissa Fink

Season 2 Episode 5 21 May 2024

Transcript

Elissa Fink:

When you go public at the New York Stock Exchange, they give you these huge banners to be in front so that people, that was the banner we put up.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Cool.

Elissa Fink:

We put up, "We help people see and understand data." That's how much it was something that we lived and died by.

Lindsay Pedersen:

The world needs what only your business can bring, and as a leader, it's your job to deliver. But where do you focus? Where do you direct your time, your team, your budget, and your emotional energy? We are learning this together on the North Star Leaders Podcast. I'll be talking to purpose-driven leaders about the choices they make to create audacious economic value while also realizing their distinctive purpose.

I'm Lindsay Pedersen, brand strategist, author of Forging An Ironclad Brand, and host of the North Star Leaders Podcast. Let's get to it.

Today I am thrilled to be joined by my guest, Elissa Fink. Elissa was CMO of Tableau from its startup days through its IPO and beyond. And after retiring from Tableau, Elissa has been advising tech companies and serving as a board member for companies like Intellimize, Pantheon Platforms and Qumulo.

Elissa, welcome to the show.

Elissa Fink:

It's great to be here, I really appreciate the invitation.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I'm delighted to have you. Elissa, to start us off, I want to ask you the question, what is your favorite thing about what you do?

Elissa Fink:

Oh, wow. Well, I guess if I think about being a marketer, I think my favorite thing is being able to work on a problem in a very creative way with people that are also creative. So working with a group, creating something together about a problem, and then seeing it get out there together. And then saying to each other and yourself, "Wow, we built that, we did that." So it's just the fun, the creativity. I love ideas, creative ideas, I love... What kind of creative, different way can we get out there and tell our message? And then the act of actual creation, the actual act of doing is really fun. And again, with people that are also into it and have the energy and the excitement about it. It's just a great thing. It's just a great thing.

Lindsay Pedersen:

There's the creativity like, "I, we crafted this." And then there's also the collaboration, the fact that we as a group locked our arms together and tackled this. And now you get to see the fruits of it and you get to experience the fruits of it. It's so rewarding.

Elissa Fink:

Yes, so rewarding. So rewarding.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I remember hearing you once say that at Tableau, the principle was, We don't sell to enterprises, we sell to people in enterprises." What's the distinction there and why is that important?

Elissa Fink:

There is a distinction, and it is important because I think when you're B2B, you're thinking that it's all about the ROI and it's all about the features and it's all about the automation, the mechanization, the whatever. But you often forget that it's people that are behind it, that's why I used to say that. I used to say, "Hey, it's not enterprise, it's the people enterprise. Don't forget there's a human on that other side." Now, salespeople in B2B are often really good at that because they're often brought in because they're relationship people. But sometimes I think in the early stages of the funnel or in marketing, we forget that we're talking to people. And people want to be entertained, they want to be informed, they want to be made smarter. They're thinking about not just about what's in it for their companies and their buying decisions, but, "What's in it for me."

And so it's really important to never forget that there's a person on the other end of that message or that campaign or that approach. That has emotions, not just the rational logic of, "We've got to fill out an RFP and make sure that boxes are checked and score it." And, "Oh, this vendor scored 4.92 and this vendor scored 4.89. Let's go with the 4.92." It's not like that, it's really people talking to people and relating. And at all stages at the journey, not just at the account manager level. So I used to always say that because I really feel that human... the recognizing that it's human at the end of your marketing even in B2B is really important.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Well, it's interesting that the salespeople, the people who are face-to-face, human to human with that audience has less of a tension understanding that or putting that into practice because they see the human being in front of them. They see that it's not a calculator in front of them or an algorithm in front of them, it's a living, breathing person. And that with marketing, because our interaction with the customer is often less direct than that, we actually have to re-remind ourselves.

Elissa Fink:

100% because again, you're thinking I'm selling this tool or this thing or this platform or this software to a group of people. And they are looking for ROI, and they all want a business case, and they want to calculate the value, and you have to explain the features. And it is a buying committee, so there's usually not just one person involved, lots of people are involved. So it's pretty rational, it is a pretty rational process. So that's why sometimes you get sort of stuck in this mode of over-rationalizing why your product, your service is the right thing I guess you could say. But again, it really does come back... It does matter their emotions and appealing to them, and it really matters what you stand for. So that's where brand I think becomes so important. Brand is so important because that is really appealing to people on a human level. And it's like, "This is what we stand for, this is our story, this is what we're about, this is what you can expect from us." That's everything in your brand, it's the emotions of connecting. And so I think it's really important.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Well, and I think it's interesting how... If I think about a human being, we do have motives that are rational as well as motives that are emotional. It's not as though we're all emotional animal creatures or all rational, we're both. That's what helped us survive on the savanna and that's what helps us thrive now. And so it's interesting that there is a need to sort of remind ourselves that it's a false dichotomy to think, "Oh, it's either rational or it's emotional." It's always both. Every decision we make has components across our brainstem is perceiving things that make us safe on a rational and an emotional level. It's not one or the other, and brand therefore, is not one or the other either. If it's a good brand, it's going to appeal on multiple levels, everything.

Elissa Fink:

Right. And I think sometimes in B2B, you do get a little like, "Got to have a business case, got to have the math work out. It's just a price decision or it's these three features or it's whatever." And sometimes you just forget that these are people and we need to appeal to them and represent who we are and tell that story. Good salespeople recognize it for sure, but sometimes, like you said... Marketing people recognize, but sometimes because we marketers tend to communicate at scale, we're not necessarily in there with individual... we forget that. And so that's the other thing I always used to say to marketers is, "Get out there and know some customers. Know them yourself, not just read a research study or do a survey. Get out there and talk to them and find out what they're about and make some friends basically." Yeah, that's really-

Lindsay Pedersen:

I love that. It's sort of a practice or a hack to kind of continually disabuse yourself of the thought that this is an amorphous algorithm or calculator. This is actually a human being that we're talking to by actually getting out there as though you're building relationships and you're getting to know the people and you're exhibiting your curiosity and learning. That that kind of brings you back and reminds you, this is a person, this is a person making this decision.

Elissa Fink:

The other thing I think when marketers take that point of view, I think the other advantage is they also can recognize, it isn't just one... I don't just have a set of accounts or a territory. Marketers, we're serving the mass, we're trying to help reach the mass. So getting to know a few customers here, a few customers there, being very open to it is a really powerful thing because you do get to understand it's a big market, there are a lot of different kinds of customers. I understand them at the gross level, the high levels, but I also have talked to many of them in different segments and different understandings, and I understand them on an individual or human level. And I think that's a powerful thing because not everybody in the organization actually can have that perspective. It's pretty hard actually.

You have your, I'm not picking on sales, I love salespeople, but your strategic account reps. And they're working with the Fortune 10 or Fortune 100. That's a very different type of account and set of people than Inc. 5000. So I think it's marketers, if they can go from that sort of mass huge numbers of markets and understand customers all the way down to individual or segment or representative segments, representative individuals, yeah, that's a pretty powerful thing.

Lindsay Pedersen:

It's an interesting paradox in a way, right? It's like there's so much recognizing that among your audience there is a lot of heterogeneity. There are different markets, there are different types of people, there are different motives, there are different firmographics, there are different psychographics. And so there is this vast heterogeneity among the audience. And at the same time when we can identify themes that unify, that actually is very leverageable for marketing too. So it's both, it's like we don't want to one-dimensionalize human beings, and we also want to discern themes that will allow us to be really crystallized and singular and not bland or vanilla.

Elissa Fink:

Yeah. Yeah, totally, Lindsay. And I think that's one of the hardest things about branding is that you build this encompassing, I used to call it a brand umbrella, that can cover or represent all of your messages and all of your audiences. And it's really important that you get that brand umbrella right because everything else has to fit under it and make sense under it. Even if it is, like you said, a very heterogeneous market or your segment. You're not going to market to everyone in the market, but still even your segments are heterogeneous [inaudible 00:11:09]. So what is your... Really be thoughtful about your brand umbrella that works across all your segments. What is it about you that appeals to all these different kinds of segments, not everyone, but these segments you've chosen or want to market to?

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah. What are the unifying themes? Even among all of this diversity, what is similar? What does unite these individual humans? In a situation where you have a small budget or little appetite for brand marketing spending, how does brand help?

Elissa Fink:

Brand is huge. I was just to say too, every... Because in the early days of Tableau and even the middle days and even later days, I guess, it's a lot about the demand about that. But I used to always say every demand touch is a brand touch. And every brand touch should be a demand touch. But most importantly, every demand touch should be a brand touch because again, you're telling a story. And the more often it's consistent and reinforcing, the more often they'll remember it and they'll relate to it and they'll recognize it. So being consistently on message and on brand is super important across everything you do in marketing. Because it just reinforces, reminds people, it makes every dollar you spend that much more effective. So even if you don't have tons of dollars for brand spend directly... And as you get bigger, you do get more money that way, but when you're littler, you don't.

Treating every dollar as a brand dollar, as well as a demand dollar is a way to make one plus one equal three kind of thing. I definitely believe that. And there are times when in a demand, a campaign of some type demand generation program, where you will say, "Okay, I know that performs better, but no, we're not going to do that because it's not on brand." Or whatever the offer is or the design or whatever. "No, we're going to trade off a little performance because it's not on brand." Yeah, because that's how brand is just so important, it's just really important. And in the long... Even in the med... In the medium run at least, that reinforcement constantly, if you're branding what you stand for and who you talk to and what they would like about you, why they want to be a part of your world, it does.

It gets you to the right people faster and they're more interested. So even if you are making some trade-offs of brand versus demand, or you think you're having to make those trade-offs, it actually does serve you. So I definitely am a big believer every demand touch is a brand touch and don't ever forget that. Yeah.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah. I love the invitation to think of it as both and instead of either or. That there's really no such thing as a piece of messaging or outreach or communication that's purely demand or that's purely brand because again, this is a human-to-human interaction. There are a lot of layers of the perception. And so another false dichotomy in a way to think of it as, "Oh, it's either going to generate demand today or it's going to build the brand." The right message is, "It's going to do both." It's both going to develop the long-term affinity that you want and also going to instigate demand. I also really appreciate your noting that there's a trade-off here. What you just described requires some leadership courage to say, "It would improve our performance to do this thing that is off-brand. In the short run that would improve our performance."

Let's acknowledge that those instances will emerge and that in those instances there is a calculation that you're making about short-term and medium-term or short-term, medium term, long-term. That we're going to give up X revenue today in order for this longer-term relationship goodwill to be healthy. I think that it's really important to just sort of give yourself that grace to say, "Yeah, it is." And sometimes that's not even possible, sometimes you actually can't do the thing that benefits the medium-term and long term because there's something so crucial short-term.

Elissa Fink:

Yeah.

Lindsay Pedersen:

And you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sometimes you can do that, but making it a habit is different from doing it as a form of your everyday protocol.

Elissa Fink:

Yeah. Sometimes you [inaudible 00:15:41], but almost everything you do, you should be asking yourself, how on brand is this? Is this on brand? Is this right for us? Is this conveying who we are and what we stand for? Is this consistent with what we want to be understood as? And you can make your choices from that. And most of the times marketers do tend to build things that are more likely to be work at their company. But there are times when, no, you know what? That performance... Especially, in digital, there's a lot of little things you can do, little games and things you can do to optimize. That we're like, "I don't think that's right for us. Let's not do that." There are times, like you said. Performance, it matters, especially in today's world. In 2024, budgets are tough and they've been cut or reduced, and people are questioning the value of marketing, and it's hard. It's hard, you really got to prove it.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yes. In anything that we do as leaders, there are always going to be trade-offs between short-term and medium-term. No matter what domain you're talking about. Whether it's marketing or procurement or vendor practices or supply chain, there are so many things that you can do that will benefit you today and will harm you in the medium term. And so this is just one of them. And it reminds me too, of what your initial point that you're working with a human being. And a brand is essentially a relationship between a human being and a company, or the human beings at a company. So anytime you do something in a relationship that helps something short-term at the expense of something harmful in the longer or medium term, it does affect the relationship either a little bit or a lot. And so it's consistent with this kind of philosophy that this is a human being and let's treat it as the relationship that it is.

Elissa Fink:

Yeah. Yeah, going back to the relationship model, it's like when you do something in a relationship that you take advantage of short term, it trades off, you lose trust, you lose credibility, and then you're having to regain that. And it's actually harder to regain it. That's what a brand... Brand promise, do you keep your promise? And so when you do short-term trade-offs and don't keep that promise, you're making a trade-off that's costing you something.

Lindsay Pedersen:

People remember.

Elissa Fink:

They do.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I know that at Tableau, your goal was 100% of our leads are inbound leads. In other words, Tableau would be the place where someone would come when they wanted to get smarter inbound as opposed to outbound. How did you tackle that goal? How did you approach that?

Elissa Fink:

We were definitely a big... in the early days, especially a big demand generation machine. But you're right, but number one, when you do outbound campaigns, you're doing it on your timeframe. It's you are running the campaign, you're deciding to launch on February 22nd or whatever. You know what I mean? But that's not when people are necessarily buying, they buy and investigate and make decisions on their timeframe. So it's kind of like, "Okay, I got to get my message out there so they know about me. And I got to make sure they know what we're good for and why, and give them opportunities to engage in the case that they are in the market." But most of the time, they're not. Most of the time, they're just collecting information or it's going in the back of their head. So one of the reasons why I was always like, "Hey, inbound is so important because it's on their timeframe." Right?

So it's like what campaigns, what kind of activities are we doing that enable people to learn about us, to be made smarter by us, to engage even if it's not for a purchase right now, so that when they are, they go back, "Oh yeah, I like those guys. I got something cool from them." Or, "I learned something." Or, "They entertained me."? People go to the internet, to digital to be entertained, to shop and to be made smarter. And so what are you doing, especially, as a B2B brand, to make them smarter so that when they do want to be in the market, they come to you? Because who doesn't want to hang out with people that make them smarter and better? Right? That's part of the trust, that's part of the brand. The brand promise is, "We're here for you. We're going to make you smarter. We're going to make you better. You're going to get ahead, you're going to do..." And it goes back to the person. It's, "What's in it for me?" "Oh, If I buy that product or do business with those guys, I look smarter. I'm smarter and better."

Even if it's, you're not ready to come in the market. Even if you read something or you saw something and then you had a meeting and you said something smarter in a meeting, because you remembered a bullet that you read on something we wrote. Great, that's a great thing. So I always think of inbound as being super good on their... Because it's when they want to enter. Now you can stimulate that, you can definitely stimulate that. And we did spend a lot of time and money on outbound campaigns, that's a demand generation machine. But being ready to embrace them as soon as they signal that, "I'm ready to be inbound." Is part of an outbound campaign.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah. Yeah. There's such a generosity in what you just described, that the person on the other end, the team on the other end, they are making decisions based on their milieu, based on their timing, based on their sense of urgency or non-sense of urgency. And to honor that is really generous. To not kind of presume that what's so important to you as a business is equally important at the equal time to them, is actually a very human to human act of grace and generosity that the person on the other end either implicitly or explicitly feels, right? Like, "And they made me smarter in that moment, and they didn't come with their hand outstretched."

Elissa Fink:

Yeah. They made me smarter. I either engaged or I didn't, or I recognized... I was entertained by it or something. It was interesting, it helped me at the time. So when they're in it, when they're in the market for that, you want them to come back to you and it'll come back to you in a way, yeah. But it does mean though that you still have to be out there a lot. There's so many competing messages and so many promises out there from so many different groups, whatever. So you still have to be out there a lot. But to be open to you're not just today's lead and then we trash out or whatever. To be open to join our community, be part of this, come back anytime and learn or whatever, that make a very valuable thing because that's the kind of people we want to hang around with.

Lindsay Pedersen:

It's also, I think that you're articulating that having a goal of our leads are inbound. Well, first of all, it's a journey, it takes time to get there. And second of all, having that goal does not mean that you're passive, and it doesn't mean that you're not engaging proactively, sometimes even aggressively. It merely means that you're not tone-deaf to what their kind of aperture is in that moment. You can be very proactive and have a goal of, most of our leads are inbound.

Elissa Fink:

Yeah, because we did run a lot of out [inaudible 00:22:58], that was our thing. I guess you could argue, in our outbound campaigns, our goal was to attract the people who were inbound-

Lindsay Pedersen:

Right.

Elissa Fink:

... to make it easy. To make it easy to be inbound.

Lindsay Pedersen:

That's so cool. Yeah, they work hand in hand.

Elissa Fink:

Yeah, I genuinely think that's true. Yeah. Yeah. We did have a huge... In the later... but even in the early days, these sales folks to feed. And our product was low cost, relatively low cost. And it was mostly by phone, especially, in the early days. Even salespeople that had years and years of experience were mostly phone-based. So it was really just feeding the beast, so to speak. So we had to attract, find a way to attract those people who were either very nearly inbound or felt like it was inbound to them.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yes, it feels like they're the one with the [inaudible 00:23:50] in this interaction.

Elissa Fink:

Plus, I'm a believer that you just don't know when somebody is going to either become inbound or refer you or remind you or remind somebody or talk about you, or... I'm just a big believer in you just don't know. You got to be able to surround and penetrate your segments in your markets, whatever that takes.

We like to believe we have perfect information or all this information about what... And we do have so much information as marketers, but the fact is one of the things about people is we don't know everything that's going on in their mind or their companies or whatever. So you just got to be out there and be present. And even if you market to a group that isn't really particular segment or a company, whatever that [inaudible 00:24:38]. But you'd never know when it's going to happen or when they're going to go somewhere else to the next company or they're going to decide, "Oh, well, we got a new CEO or new person. And okay, we're in the market." You just got to be out there with authenticity and, "This is our brand, this is our promise. We commit to it, we're here for you. We're going to do this." Yeah.

Lindsay Pedersen:

It's an illusion to believe that you can be so precise that you can anticipate these all the time. So there's also this kind of humility in the incompleteness of our information and our understanding about where this person is and what's happening that has nothing to do with you or their environment.

Elissa Fink:

And the flip side of that is you still have to make all these decisions about how you're spending your money. And you do have to spend your money for maximum efficiency, right? And maximum results and maximum efficacy. And so you do, but then also knowing there's always going to be situations where you just don't know. Where you don't, you make your best judgment on the information you have. It's the right decision, but it still might only be half the information. But nonetheless, you still have to make those decisions, but know that anything can change or anything can happen. So it's like, don't give up because you don't have perfect information.

There's this mathematician, and I love this quote, and I'm going to get it wrong, and I can't remember his name. It was the 1860s or 70s, and he said, basically, "Decisions made with incomplete information are better than decisions made with no information." So we, marketers will never have all the information we think we need to or we need or whatever to really understand or get to the right customers at the right time. Nonetheless, use the information you have because that'll get you closer to being there. But don't be surprised when things come out of different places, that's part of the learning and part of the journey.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I love that quote. And I love that encouragement to use the data you have, use it with wisdom. Don't expect to get 100% probability or 100% fidelity, or you might wait forever and will miss the opportunity. And use your brain and your intuition alike when harnessing the data that you have.

Elissa Fink:

Amen, Lindsey, I 100% agree with that. Because I do think marketers have strong intuitions, and so it's like, "Don't throw that out, use that." But use data, use information, use your experience, use it all. And that's a better and more complete picture than what you had. It's not the full picture all the time, but it is going to guide you better. You're more likely to make better decisions just being out there. Use all the information you can, just know that there can't be perfect fidelity or perfect picture.

Lindsay Pedersen:

[inaudible 00:27:31] never will be. I know that your North Star at Tableau stated in the mission was, "We help people see and understand data." When Tableau was going public, to what extent did you as the leaders lean into that North Star, either on the road show or beyond?

Elissa Fink:

We leaned into that so much that when you go public at the New York Stock Exchange, they give you these huge banners to be in front so that people [inaudible 00:28:01], and that was the banner we put up.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Cool.

Elissa Fink:

We put up, "We help people see and understand data." That's how much it was something that we lived and died by. And it was a really simple mission and such a great mission. I'll never forget when I was interviewing and you're answering... It was over the phone, I was in D.C. and the CEO was out here in Seattle. I of course asked my question, "Oh, what's your mission?" And he said exactly that. "We help people see and understand data." And he stopped. I was like, "Oh, he must be drinking water. Oh, did the line go dead? Where's all the BS about stakeholders and yada, yada, yada?" And it was nothing else, that was it. And so what was great about that mission is we could turn to it and say, "Does this help people see and understand data? Is this doing what we said it's going to do? Is this product decision doing it? Is this marketing decision doing it? Is this sales decision? Is this operational decision? Is this advancing our mission to help people see and understand data?"

And to loop it back to what we were talking about a little earlier, I would always argue the most important word in that mission was people. Don't forget, we're not helping enterprises see and understand data, we're helping people see and understand data. So that too, that mission really also came through in this idea that we don't market to enterprises, we market to people in enterprises. So back to what does it take to help people, humans see and understand data either for themselves or for their companies? What does it take? And what role do we have in helping them in every different department? It was a pretty powerful mission, and people knew it. People knew those words, we trained them on it. We didn't have to train them that hard on it, but they knew it. That helped guide a lot of action within the company for sure. So having a simple, clear mission that is definitely about your promise to your customers is a pretty powerful thing. It's not that common, but it's a very powerful thing.

Lindsay Pedersen:

It's interesting because there are a lot of leaders, especially who are sort of... They've seen so many poor mission statements that it's like there's so much gobbledygook. It was clearly created by committee, and they turned to brand as a way to sort of create something that is crystallized in singular, that's not created by committee. Tableau's, the phrase, "We help people see and understand data." That's as close as I've ever seen to a brand promise. That's a brand promise to me that is stated in mission statement language. Doesn't really matter what you call it, whether it's a mission or a brand promise. But what's so great about it, one of the many things so great about it, is it's so crystal. It's simple, without being simplistic or anodyne. It's actually pretty stringent as a filter for making decisions.

Like you said, as we're adjudicating a choice, does it pass this hurdle of, we help people see and understand data? It's a very tight decision-making filter for things big and small across the organization. Things that are obviously marketing and things that have little to do with marketing, all can abide by that North Star. It's one of the reasons I love it so much.

Elissa Fink:

I felt very lucky to have such a clear guidepost or signpost. It's hard, it's a really hard thing to have that, to bring it down to something so simple and so clear, but so fertile with ideas and fertile [inaudible 00:31:31] the ways that you can help your customers and people. Yeah, it was a pretty brilliant mission, I had nothing to do with it.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh.

Elissa Fink:

It was there before I got there, but it was like, "I get it, man, I'm on board. I'm on board."

Lindsay Pedersen:

Somebody knew what they were doing by putting that stake in the ground. Well, I am now at the point where I have some rapid-fire questions for you.

Elissa Fink:

Okay.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Are you ready for a few?

Elissa Fink:

Yes. Sure. Yeah.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Okay. Just one word answers if you can. Okay. Your favorite dessert.

Elissa Fink:

Today I'm going to say cherry pie.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, yes. With ice cream on the si... A la mode or no?

Elissa Fink:

No, just straight up. It wouldn't be on the cherry pie.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, naturally. Yes.

Elissa Fink:

Maybe it's George Washington's birthday coming up that I'm thinking about cherries, but anyway.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I now have a craving. Okay. What is your pet peeve?

Elissa Fink:

That sounds crazy, but I guess... Maybe I get annoyed too much, so I have too many pet peeves, I don't know.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I was going to say, you're so good-natured that unlike me, I could easily name off about 30. You're having a hard time thinking of one because you're so kind.

Elissa Fink:

I have my poor husband, I'm thinking what does he do that drives me nuts. I guess my pet peeve is my poor husband [inaudible 00:32:45], when I'm like... And a lot of women, I think... men do this too, but I'm like, tangential thinker, talking about a lot of things, like, "Wait, what? I can't think about that right now, I can only think about this one thing." I'm like, "What? Come on, keep up." Yeah, keep up. We can have lots of strands of different conversations going on at the same time. What's wrong with you?

Lindsay Pedersen:

Lots of windows open at the same time, we've got RAM for that.

Elissa Fink:

Come on. Yeah. Yeah.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Okay. What was your last splurge purchase?

Elissa Fink:

I'm going on a trip next week and I need some comfortable shoes. And I just bought a new pair of, I would say, overpriced tennis shoes. They're just cute, and I'm just like, "I really could probably downgrade from these, but these are adorable." So that was my latest-

Lindsay Pedersen:

Do you know the brand of [inaudible 00:33:31]?

Elissa Fink:

Oh, Golden Goose.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, I was going to say, I hope she's talking about Golden Goose.

Elissa Fink:

I think they'll be comfortable enough to be called walking shoes, but you never know. So that was my big splurge lately. It was just two days ago. I was like, "Why not? My feet want to look nice." I want to look down and go, "Oh, I like those."

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yes. You look fabulous and you feel fabulous on those. Okay. The book that you've recommended the most.

Elissa Fink:

I automatically, because we're talking about marketing, but I have recommended this book a lot is, I always forget this specific title, but it's by Robert Cialdini.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, yeah. Influence or Pre-Suasion.

Elissa Fink:

[inaudible 00:34:10].

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah.

Elissa Fink:

So good. It's just chapters and chapters of experiments and why it works and why it doesn't work, and it's just really great. And it really gets to a lot of the things we're talking about. People, how they think, their reaction to offers and their reaction to other people's behaviors. And why those behaviors can be predictable sometimes. Just a great book from a marketing perspective.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I love that. It's time for me to reread that, it's been a long time.

Elissa Fink:

Every once in a while I like to reread it too.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Go back to it, it's so evergreen and-

Elissa Fink:

So evergreen. Again, it's back to why do people do the things they do? I guess that's why I got into marketing is it's just so interesting to me why people do what they do. Why do they buy this or do this, or why do they react to this message that way? It's just so interesting.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I totally agree. I love Cialdini. Okay, good. Influence and Persuasion. Final rapid fire question. What is your favorite TV show right now?

Elissa Fink:

Oh God, I love TV, I have to say I love binging. Right now, I got to have more than one. Okay, so first of all, last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yes.

Elissa Fink:

Again, back to people's behavior, Larry David and the way he is such a curmudgeon, but a straight, honest curmudgeon. And the most selfish behaviors that everyone thinks of come out or the most-

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yes.

Elissa Fink:

... human behaviors come out, so I love that. So that might be my number one. The other one I'm enjoying is... My husband and I just started re-watching it last night, it's a show called Tokyo Vice.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, I don't know that one.

Elissa Fink:

It's a little bit of a guilty pleasure. It's about this American, it's based on a true framework, let's put it that way, this American journalist who learns Japanese, goes to Japan and works for one of the huge Japanese newspapers and wants to get to know Japan from inside. And it's a little white guy goes there and uncovers crime and blah, blah, blah, but it's still pretty entertaining. And Japan, and it's just an interesting culture. And you do get to look at just different parts, and I just love learning about new cultures, different angles and cultures and people, and so that part of it [inaudible 00:36:28].

Lindsay Pedersen:

Mm. Tokyo Vice.

Elissa Fink:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Okay. Making a note.

Elissa Fink:

It's a cop drama show.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I love me a cop drama show.

Elissa Fink:

Yeah, exactly. Why are we watching this again? But yes, it's good. It is good.

Lindsay Pedersen:

This is fun. Elissa, thank you so much, this has been just so fun for me. Where can people find you online? What's your favorite place to go?

Elissa Fink:

I do post on LinkedIn every once in a while, so Elissa Fink just straight up on LinkedIn. And then I do have a website that they can find my email at, which is Elissafink.com. I don't do a ton of stuff up there, but if they want to reach out, I'm always interested in hearing from people. And I've been so blessed in my career and so lucky in so many ways in the opportunities I've had, but particularly people that I've got to work with like you Lindsay. And so I'm always open to chatting with people who are wondering, "Oh, what do you think about this?" Or, "What's my next step?" Or whatever, so people feel free to reach out.

Lindsay Pedersen:

That's so awesome, that makes my heart swell. Thank you. Thank you, Elissa.

Elissa Fink:

Thank you, Lindsay, that was a lot of fun.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Thanks for listening to this episode of North Star Leaders. Make sure you don't miss an episode by subscribing on your favorite podcast app. For show notes, transcripts and newsletter signup, visit ironcladbrandstrategy.com. Please join us again for another episode of North Star Leaders.

Lindsay speaking

About Lindsay

Lindsay Pedersen is a bestselling author and brand strategist with a scientific, growth-oriented approach to brand building. She has advised companies from burgeoning startups to national corporations, including Zulily, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Coinstar, and IMDb.

Her background as a P&L owner at Clorox fostered in Lindsay a deep appreciation for the executive’s charge: increasing the company’s value. There, she led mature, billion-dollar businesses and newly-launched categories, from Clorox Bleach to Armor All to Brita. In each case, she was solely responsible for increasing the business’s value.

Thanks to this executive perspective, Lindsay demands that brands be hard-working, disciplined and rigorous in growing a business. Her brand strategies are tested in the crucible of her proprietary Ironclad Method. Lindsay arms leaders with an empowering understanding of brand, and an ironclad brand strategy to guide choices as they grow.