Transparency: a Core Value for Your Company | John Jeremiah

Transparency: a Core Value for Your Company

with John Jeremiah

 

About today’s guest:

John Jeremiah is the Marketing Director at Traceable.ai, which helps teams securely and effectively manage modern cloud-native applications. He served in the Navy for nine years as a Surface Warfare Officer. His career has included seven years at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and work at GitLab as a Product Marketing Leader. He is also the Founding Author of TechBeacon, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s independent thought leadership and content marketing platform. John grew TechBeacon to over 200,000 users and 300,000 page views per month.

As always, May I Have Your Attention is brought to you by captivate.ai, which turns your podcast into three months of social media content, you can find out more at Captivate.ai.

Time Stamps:

John’s background [0:45]

Traceable.ai [2:09]

How to get noticed and acquire customers [5:52]

Understanding people’s problems [8:20]

Be transparent to grow a community [11:53]

Culture is a microcosm [16:48]

Selected Resources:

Transcript:

Justin Nassiri  00:04

Welcome back to May I have your attention, a show about slicing through the noise online. I’m Justin Nassiri. And each week I chat with industry leaders about how to get key and monetize attention online. May I have your attention is brought to you by captivate.ai, which turns your webinar or podcast the three months of social media content? Find out [email protected] Let’s get started with today’s episode. Well joining me today in Merritt Island, my guest is John Jeremiah. John, welcome to May I have your attention.

 

John Jeremiah  00:40

Justin, I’m really happy to join you. It’s kind of fun to be with you today. A beautiful sunny day in Florida.

 

Justin Nassiri  00:45

Yeah, yeah. Well, you’re rubbing it in, because I think it’s about to dump some rain here in Denver as well. I want to give our audience some context. So john is the marketing [email protected], which helps teams securely and effectively manage modern cloud native applications. He served in the Navy for nine years as a Surface Warfare Officer. And his career has included seven years at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and work at get lab. Excuse me get lab is a product marketing leader. He is also the founding author of tech beacon, which is Hewlett Packard Enterprise as independent thought leadership and content marketing platform, which he grew to over 200,000 users and 300,000 pageviews per month. So John, to start things off, let me give you space, anything to add or amend to that bio.

 

John Jeremiah  01:39

You know, just it’s a fun bio i have i’ve had a fun career. I’m the, the tech beacon I would only amend is that I was part of a team. It was amazing team that built that I got to write the first blog and the first story that went on tech beacon and helped to be part of that group that grew that platform. But yeah, it was it was a lot of a lot of hard work by many people of building amazing content for the community. And now everywhere I look, I find tech beacon. So it’s kind of fun to see how that’s grown.

 

Justin Nassiri  02:09

That’s great. That’s great. Well, one of the first things that I wanted to ask is, if you could just give a little bit of context for our audience about what traceable AI is, I think that will give some coloring to as we dig into some lessons learned about getting attention,

 

John Jeremiah  02:25

no happy to. So you know that the problem that we’re facing when things are traceable, is helping to solve is addressing the next problem or the problem that organizations are dealing with, which is, you know, modern applications, not unlike captivate, they’re incredible, they can be really hard to protect and secure. They’re built on microservices, and, and API’s that connect applications together. And that’s been a huge benefit to developers who can build things really, really fast. However, it creates a whole new set of vulnerabilities and attack surfaces. And so traceable AI really empowers and enables developers and security to work together to manage the application and the API risks. And what it really does is it applies the ability to look inside the application. Think of it almost as the application or the API DNA to understand how is the application performing, and then uses machine learning and AI to detect anomalies, and then help to protect that application. So I like to think of it as we protect an application from the inside out. And then also from the outside in. That’s a quick way of second.

 

Justin Nassiri  03:30

It’s interesting, because I remember this was, you know, long time ago, when I raised money for story box, our lead investor was Google’s Eric Schmidt. And he had just talked about how exciting of a time it was where you could build a discreet solution and connect with other applications and connect to these other things. I never really considered the ramifications of that down the road now where I’m guessing, you know, correct me if I’m, if I’m wrong, I’m guessing that every time you’re interacting with another app or another system, it introduces a vulnerability and you’re also likely only as good as the weakest link in that whole thing that you’re connected to. So that’s interesting to think that the use of AI to detect those anomalies and vulnerabilities and make sure that that the entire system is safe.

 

John Jeremiah  04:22

That’s right. And you know, it’s funny, we worked with one of a hacker and Alyssa Knight, she’s she was a hacker in high school, got hired by the security agencies after she was arrested once evolved on her career to become an IT leader and evangelists. She wrote a book with us called the price of hubris. And she describes how she used API hacking techniques to hack police cars, to hack financial institutions to hack into medical records. And it’s it’s something that, you know, you look at the URL of the browser, and that’s an API. There’s things that people can do with that of say, what would happen If you change a number in the quantity of something you’re ordering, or what if the price were included? In the data being passed back and forth? How easy would it be to buy the next test to buy a Tesla with a, you know, 75% discount?

 

Justin Nassiri  05:17

Well,

 

John Jeremiah  05:18

how easy would it be to go into your health records? And say, gee, you know, use your ideas in the in the in the URL? What if I add one to that? And now you’re getting someone else’s health record. These are the kinds of vulnerabilities that developers and security professionals have to really solve. And it’s one that Gartner quoted Gartner stat was that in 2022, this is going to be one of the top attack vectors. And so we’ve been building traceable, to help organizations to Team directly solve this problem. That’s great.

 

Justin Nassiri  05:52

Well, I want to ask a couple of questions. But all of them are in the vein of looking at your background at HP and even at get lab and what you did with tech beacon. My perception is these are large companies and traceable, you know, is about 100 employees on LinkedIn. And so I’m kind of curious, were there are there lessons that you learned at any of those organizations that you’ve been able to apply at a relatively smaller organization to get in front of customers to make noise to get noticed to acquire customers?

 

John Jeremiah  06:32

Yes, it’s an interesting challenge. I’ve gone from 350,000 people, you know, when the Navy I don’t know, I forgot, lost track of how big it is. to HP, which was HP was huge. But the team at software was smaller, to get lab, where was 200 of us. And I was had the fortune of going from get lab from 200 to 1200, in two years, which was an amazing ride, to hear where we’ve gone from 50 to you know, about 100. Now, we were kind of in that growth spurt, to get the message out to get in front of people. It’s a lesson I learned. I learned at Tech beacon I learned from HP Software, brilliant marketing leader, Paul Miller, about the when you build content, when you try to publish things, you’re not publishing it for a marketing benefit, like the price of hubris, sure, there’s a marketing benefit of it, but we’re trying to educate the market. And the lesson I learned as a it leader, and a Navy leader, and then a marketing leader is that leadership and marketing together are really a function of education. How do you teach people about doing something better doing something different to get different results. As a naval officer, with a division and people that I was leading, I had to do that, as a it leader trying to get different results. Again, it was about education and teaching, and now in marketing is far away from it is it’s the same theme? How do I help people do something different to get different results or better results? And so regardless of the organization, the mindset, the approach has to be, how do I give to the community? How do I give back to the universe, something that’s positive? And then the rest of it will work out?

 

Justin Nassiri  08:20

I really like this sense of the generosity and the education piece, like I imagine that lands Well, for most people, what have you found is ways to uncover what to educate people about?

 

John Jeremiah  08:36

Well, you know, it’s funny as, as a, in my career, I’ve had this for have been able to go in the career in marketing, I came at it from being a customer. So I know what it’s like to be a developer, I know what it’s like to be an IT leader. And I understand their challenges. And so for me, part of my career has been, how do I help developers and it deliver better things faster? I did a TEDx talk a few years ago, that was the theme at Git lab. What was the theme? It was? How do you help people develop and ship software faster and faster and more in a more agile and nimble way in a more integrated way across the whole lifecycle? And here at traceable? How do we help people ship and develop secure software and protect the software? So for me, the theme has always been the same. And it comes from having been an IT leader, having been a developer trying to deliver solutions to the business and trying to do it as efficiently and effectively. And I think the key to doing this and one of things that I do a lot when I used to be able to travel. I used to be able to go to conferences. Listen, I think one of the most important things that we have to do as marketers and we have to do as people who are trying to deliver innovation is to very carefully listen, listen to our customers, listen to people who are in the practice and learn. Right So what can you learn from LinkedIn and from blogs and different places. Asking and bringing people together to learn from them is one of the things that I think we don’t do enough of. Too often we think we know the answer. And so we ask questions to try to validate, well, we know this is the answer, I think you have to approach the, the people you’re serving in a way of listing to understand their problems just so you can better address them.

 

Justin Nassiri  10:24

I really liked that I started work with a new executive coach. And one of the phrases he told me that has stuck with me is empathy can be a competitive advantage. And if you empathize with and understand your customer, even 10, or 15%, better than anyone else out there that that the breakthroughs in terms of product and roadmap and all of those things are unbelievably extreme. So I like what you’re saying, which is the sense of being more curious, and especially your point about, I get in that habit to where it’s like you are asking questions to kind of just validate your own value proposition, rather than like genuine open ended curiosity to learn more about what what that unique person is needing?

 

John Jeremiah  11:16

That’s right. It’s a relationship, though. I mean, if I’ll relay back a story when I bought an enterprise software product, million dollar deal, is what it came down to. And you know, why we chose the one was the relationships in the empathy we had with the one set of vendors versus the other. At the other day, that was the decision was, who do we want to spend time with work on even though the other product, had more value had better features? higher in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, we picked the one that was a little bit better, because we figured we’re gonna be we’re gonna be married to this company for the foreseeable future. Let’s work with him.

 

Justin Nassiri  11:53

One of the things I liked about how you described Git Labs is what I heard, at least I may have misinterpreted but it was transparency was really a core value of the product and the community. And one of the ways they reinforced that was that these team meetings would be live streamed on YouTube, and people could literally watch what a meeting was like, and I’d love you know, anything you took away from that experience or what that was like.

 

John Jeremiah  12:19

Yeah, no, give that was a an amazing opportunity to work with an unbelievably talented group of professionals from product management, to engineering, to marketing across the board, it was a fantastic team. And and Git lab was built out of the idea of it being it was an open source project. First, it was about a community that was building a software solution. That was more that was effectively a way to download and to own your GitHub, effectively, like GitHub, but a local repository that Git lab built, and developers loved it, because they didn’t want to have to put things into the GitHub ecosystem, they wanted to be able to control it. And so we solve the real problem. And, and then what happened is the community started building the community started adding the community started contribute. And in order to encourage that kind of contribution, we had to be transparent about the direction and the vision. And, and you know, I give Sid a ton of credit, since the CEO is the founder and the early leaders that Git lab embraced this idea of, of just a meet an amazing culture that was totally transparent about the way they worked. If If you were to go to Git lab and look up their Handbook, and when I was there, it was 10 or 15,000 pages of content now I think it’s in the 30s now the handbook at get lab is the everybody’s got an employee manual. He had this you know, the employee HP way, the big manual, did people follow it? Oh, it was published it was sitting it was it was what I would call a BFD. It was a big fat document that nobody ever read the handbook. It Git lab is always changing. It’s always being updated. It’s always being amended. So if you were to change a process, like say, how we do say how you do sales comp, or how you do regions or territory or whatever, it started with a proposal to change the handbook. And so the handbook was a form of just radical transparency to start with. And then we pushed it even farther. We said, well, let’s record meetings. Because if you can’t attend a meeting, we’re a global company. We’re all remote. But what if I can’t attend? Or if it’s wrong hours? Well, let’s record it. No, no, rather than recorded, let’s just put them on YouTube. So we kept pushing the culture and the value of transparency of iteration of, you know, of collaboration. And it led to a pretty remarkable way of working and it’s one that it’s one that I’ve learned a lot from doing it. It’s funny, I went back and I watched my TEDx talk recently. And I didn’t realize that when I built the talk, and I did that, that I would end up going to work at a company that was modeling a lot of what I Talking about.

 

Justin Nassiri  15:02

I personally believe that, you know, when people or companies are aligned with their values, whatever those values are, I think we just kind of sense that I think it’s more, it’s more inherently trustable. And so what I’m liking about what you’re saying is, there’s this piece where we gravitate to work towards people we like. But I think that there’s an also a piece there, if an organization can be really aligned in a way like Git lab seems like they are, I think people gravitate towards that it’s just much more authentic and relatable and believable. So that’s a great example of a company leaning so heavily and to the values that that form their foundation.

 

John Jeremiah  15:43

That’s right. And you know, it’s funny, as, as a marketer, I’ve things I’ve taken away from that experience, I continue to apply to this day. And and that’s part of you, as a leader, I grew from that experience. And, and you’re exactly right, the authenticity of Git lab is played off, because the experience of Git lab that was striking, was when I went to the first couple of conferences and events, and I was working the booth and talking to people, I had this really uncomfortable feeling. And today, it would be horrible is a horrifying experience today, because people would come to the booth, they would see the booth and see the sign the logo, they go get lab, and then they’d want to hug us. Wow, totally socially not right, compared to in some of my past experiences where our our relationship with the customers wasn’t quite so friendly. It wasn’t we didn’t have that quite that kind of experience where it was, when are you going to fix this bug? Or when are you going to ship this and it was it was more difficult. Again, lab, it was, it was very cool. The love, there was amazing amount of love from the community for that product, and the team,

 

Justin Nassiri  16:48

as you think of you know, the experience at Git lab and then now it traceable, that AI How do you think of bringing, it’s interesting because every organization is its own beast, it’s got its own culture, it’s got its own values. How do you think of bringing those brought that broader lesson from get lab but adapting it to a very new environment, like traceable, because what I love about what you’re saying is like we would all I think everyone listening would love to have a product and company, that their customers love so much that they would burst your comfort, bubble and guillon to give you a bear hug when they see you. So how do you think of importing that into a new organization?

 

John Jeremiah  17:31

You know, it’s it’s funny, if, as a leader, you’re thinking about the culture, you’re thinking about the things you do to help encourage, but you know, certain kinds of behavior. And frankly, I found in my experience that culture is it’s a How would I say it’s, it’s sort of like a microclimate. You know, culture is a microcosm. It’s not there was it as an organization scales, think about it in the Navy and your experience when you’re in the Navy, on a on a boat, the culture on the boat, even within different departments was different, right? different departments on the on the boat had different culture. at HP, it was true that the culture of the team that was led by a guy in Israel had a very Israeli culture. And it was different from the group that was focused. And so we had this remarkably different culture. So first off is understand culture varies radically organization. But as a leader trying to build that culture into a new organization, you have to think about how do you establish values that you can have alignment from the top down, you can have this kind of clear alignment as to who are we? And then how do we be authentic to that culture is I think the challenge and you get that was unique, it was a unique story, I think, in that, you know, the way it started, and Sid had a very strong perspective on it. And we it became a collaborative thing that the culture wasn’t a top down mandated culture. And there was certainly parts of it that were were established as a as a framework to work from. But it was such a collaborative nature in that if, if members of the community of the company, or community felt as if some of the values should change. That was that was open for negotiation, it was open for discussion. And so that was part of it. I think that helped to build a it helps to build an ownership, if you will, of what the culture and values were because frankly, it was a community that was constantly eval evolving it. It wasn’t that we would vote on the culture, people would propose changes and justify those changes. And in fact, if you were to go, if you were to go spelunking in the Git lab archives, you would find examples where people had discussions about changing parts of the culture. And those were public discussions. And sometimes I can’t even remember one time where that public discussion became It got out of control, where it was about hiring practices in different countries and, and oh boy, that became a hot item. And it became such that we actually made that a private conversation because it was such a, we just, it was not a positive experience. And so we became really sensitive to, there are some things that we had to do have as an internal conversation. But in general, everything was public. And so you can see how the culture evolved. I think part of what I need to do as leader we have to do as leaders is, is it’s not just us saying the culture is this, it’s it’s how we lead, it’s how we do things. And it’s how we bring together the people because the culture really is a is a is about how does everybody work together, leader has to point at it and point in the direction of it and shape it. But you can’t mandate it.

 

Justin Nassiri  20:49

I think that’s so great. Because sometimes I feel like the expectation is of a founder or C C suite team is that they have to establish and safeguard this culture, which is true in some sense. But what you’re describing is this malleable process where everyone in the organization can shape it into what it needs to be. And to me, that’s so much more powerful. And I feel like that the example of the Git lab, employee handbook and how it’s constantly changed and evolving, to me speaks of a company that I’m not worried about five years from now they’ve lost what made them special because they’ve got the systems in place to continue to grow. I know that we’re at the end of our time here, but I want to say for listeners will have [email protected] with links to John’s TEDx talk, links to traceable.ai and a couple other things that we mentioned during this conversation. But John, thank you so much for sharing your advice with us today.

 

John Jeremiah  21:50

Thank you, Justin. I’ve had a great time of being with you and I look forward to what we do in the future.

 

Justin Nassiri  21:59

Thank you for listening to me, I have your attention. Each episode I meet with top marketers thought leaders and experts to find out how individuals and brands can get keep and make money with attention. You can subscribe to me I have your attention on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts show notes are provided for each [email protected] slash podcast. May I have your attention is brought to you by captivating.ai which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content.

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