Podcast 113: The Inside View at High Growth Companies

This week we’re excited to have 2 killer guests on the podcast.

This week we’re excited to have 2 killer guests on the podcast. We have a duo from Looker, Rafael Jara-Simkin, Director of Eastern Americas as well as Talal Assir, Director of Sales Engineering. Both have 5+ years of experience under their belts at Looker and confess to never having been bored of their work for even 1 day during that time. Let’s dive into how and why in this podcast…

In this podcast you’ll Learn:

The Power of Your Passion in The Hiring Process

How to Find Your Niche In the Market

How Internal Relationships Are Vital to Success

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John Barrows: One thing I have realized is that it’s okay to have B players. If you only had A players, the room would explode. So how have you guys managed to find that balance in your company culture, but still maintain the feeling that what you’re doing is fun?

Rafael Jara-Simkin: I think it’s about the bar you set. It’s reflected in the fact that Talal and I have been here for six years and are still really psyched. It’s hard for us to stay where the sweet spot is because it’s different every year. But we stay engaged because we keep learning and we’re still in a culture where we’re challenged hard. We’re learning a lot from our mentors and leaders in here and we’re able to also have a say in like continuing that hiring process.

Talal Assir: The two things we emphasize, this is the two things that are the deal breakers for us in an interview. We look for passion and we look for collaboration. In the, the desire to come in and want to learn from other people around them is key. I can teach someone how to write anything or do the work on a new programming project. I can teach someone the industry; I can teach someone to give a sh*t about their jobs.

John Barrows: So, how do you figure that out in an interview. One thing I have found is that I hear boring stuff like “I care about the customer journey”. But I’m more interested when they rant about how awesome Tom Brady is and think the Pats are going to win the next 6 Superbowl’s with him playing QB. How do you guys feel about that.

Rafael Jara-Simkin: It does vary from person to person, especially as you grow a bigger and bigger team. You can’t always have those people that are just being whipped into doing stuff they hate. That doesn’t work. But I found in interviews, you can’t directly ask these questions to get the answer you want. It always must be natural. I commonly start interviews by reminding them I have a lot of questions but allow them to start with some. This is a great way to see what they want to know, if they want to get an insight into what they’re walking into.

If they ask about how many reps hit quota, the industry, the product, the common issues in the market and other things beyond that, we’re on to a good candidate.

Finding your sweet spot in the market

Rafael Jara-Simkin: There’s always the thing about working for a small start-up with less people, you personally know so many people. You’re scrapping, you’re building things together. There’s just nothing that beats that. It’s so fun. It’s stressful and crazy. We’ve had plenty of nights. We’re bouncing our heads off the wall, but it can be super fun. I think both of us excelled and were psyched on that. Although we’re having a lot of fun these days too. It’s just new and different and we’re learning different things.

Talal Assir: There was nothing like the early days I was working out of my apartment, jumping around the city, going to do whatever needed to be done. Through the years I keep waiting for that period where I’m going to get bored. It just hasn’t happened yet. Every new stage for us has kept us fresh. We’re in such high growth. Insane Velocity of growth every year has presented itself like with these completely new challenges. I’m still waiting for that moment to get bored. That’s a sign that you’re in the right segment and market for yourself as a person.

John Barrows: Totally agree. I’ve been at companies in that 20 to 50 stage and everybody was going all-in. People were all in working hours, crazy stuff. We hit that 50 people barrier and I remember very distinctly at around 50 people; I was frustrated because a lot of the people that we were bringing on board just did not have the same passion for the business that we did. That 51st person we hired and beyond just never felt like they had the same passion as those there before them. That in my mind is because my sweet spot is that rapid growth, figuring out stage. For others it’s the process and evolution stages.


John Barrows: I admit, back in the day I worked with a Sales Engineer called Dylan and he got treated kind of bad. I was selling stuff I had no idea about and just let him talk through the meetings, I sent proposals. After a while I realized how bad that is. So, you guys work well together, how have you created that arrangement and what have you noticed when doing it?

Rafael Jara-Simkin: I’ll just say philosophically that we’ve has always thought of relationships as working together properly. I’ll steal this analogy from my CRO. Sales reps are mini CEOs. They’re executives running their own in their territory. Targets to hit.

Their SE’s are somewhat like they’re CTOs, they’re Co-Founders of that firm. And they make decisions together and yes, there must be a quarterback in certain situations. The CEO often plays a part, but no good CEO would ever make any big decisions preparation wise, follow-up wise, executing on this or that. It wouldn’t be done without having their CTOs thoughts or looping them in, getting feedback, ensuring that they’re making good use of each other’s time.

Talal Assir: We tell everyone on day 1, what will make or break your success is your ability to build a good relationship. And everyone works a little bit differently. So, it’s not that easy. I’d say1 thing that we did probably later than we should have is we really started to blur the line between an AE and an SE. In terms of 1 being the technical person and the other being the seller. It’s really a team effort and we don’t want to put someone in a box and make them stay there.

That’s a wrap. Join us next time

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