M.R. Rangaswami: You became CEO of MATRIXX Software in January 2020, after joining its Board of Directors the previous year. What makes you the right leader for the company at this time?
Glo Gordon: I took over as CEO of MATRIXX at an exciting time. The company had already battled their way into a market dominated by legacy giants and built an impressive list of customers, including Tier-1 communications service providers and leading digital players from around the globe. What MATRIXX needed, and why I was engaged, was to evolve from a technology-focused start-up into a go-to-market focused, medium sized business capable of scaling to dominate a market. To make that happen, I chose to focus the company on three priorities: North Star, Raving Fans & Culture.
North Star. This is what you do best, better than any other company. When you know this and focus on it – you can drive an integrated strategy across all facets of the business. For MATRIXX, the result was adding more new customers in 2020 than ever before.
Raving Fans. Our business model is built on renewals. And references are our biggest asset. So our customers’ success is our success and this requires every part of the organization to prioritize customer success in everything they do. I asked the whole company to read this book the day I started so we are aligned as company behind this effort.
Culture. We want MATRIXX to be a place where people want to work. Scaling a company also requires investing in leadership and career development across the organization because feeling connected to the business is crucial. As a global company and, specifically as a result of COVID, consistent and clear communication are essential to manifesting that goal.
M.R.: You have a history of working with disruptor companies. How is leading an industry disruptor unique?
Glo: As every entrepreneur can attest, the real challenge of industry disruption is that success is entirely dependent on obliterating the status quo of the industry they’re in. Which, of course, is why getting the industry’s people to embrace, and even demand change, isn’t easy. Which is why we have to do more than just sell a product. Instead, we have to evangelize a vision for the future, and then show how our product can be part of a complete solution to deliver on that vision.
This is why being a disruptor in the telecoms sector is so exciting right now. When you look at our customers, these are companies that have shaken off the industry’s slow-moving caricature, and are really investing in operating differently – for their customers, and for their shareholders. In fact, they are more than just buyers of change, they are powerful advocates for it. Having our team be in a position to help support those innovators and be a partner to their success is why we do the work that we do. Not to mention, having a bit of a David-and-Goliath story is always fun and exciting.
M.R.: What advice can you share about transitioning a company from startup to scale?
Glo: At some point in a startup journey, once product: market fit is proven and you have an awesome, scalable, repeatable solution solving a meaningful problem in the market, the pivot from pure technology focus to GTM / scale is necessary and requires focus and a winning culture. That means acknowledging and embracing that the way the organization functioned in the past, may not provide a realistic and accurate benchmark for what’s required in the future. This is a natural part of the journey and can also be the hardest, because it means leaving behind what got you where you are. For leadership, the imperative is to adapt to that culture shift while consistently and clearly communicating clearly why it’s important.
More tactically, as a team is adding headcount, instilling organizational discipline and process becomes a necessity for regularly measuring progress against key priorities. One additional benefit of greater discipline, is improved visibility into all parts of the organization which is not only vital to maintaining momentum, but can signal need for a course correct before it’s too late!
Leading through change is hard. I strongly suggest getting a mentor! On that topic, mine recommended this read and I refer to it often: The Hard Thing About the Hard Things, Ben Horowitz.
Finally – your journey is your own and we must continue to adapt and transform, just as we ask our customers to do!
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com