Transcript: Saying Goodbye and Reflecting on Three Years of Beating The Drum with Margot Leong

On this final episode of Beating The Drum, I had a fantastic conversation with my friend and fellow customer marketer, Pida Pairawan, where I reflect on the past three years of doing this podcast, some of my favorite conversations and how they’ve influenced my professional and personal life, and some advice for customer marketers who are just starting out. I’ve met so many incredible people from doing the show and I’m really going to miss these conversations. Thank you so much to everyone who’s listened and I really hope that you enjoy this last episode. 

Margot Leong: So Pida, this is a very bittersweet episode for me because I’m gonna be retiring the podcast and this is very likely the last episode of the show. And I was thinking about what would be a good way to end the show and that it might be nice to turn the mic around and just share a little bit more about myself and really reflect on what the show has meant over the past three years and sort of what I’ve learned from it. 

 So to listeners, Pida is my good friend. She was a recent guest on the show and she has kindly agreed to interview me for this. So yeah, I’ll let you take it from here though. 

Pida Pairawan: I’m Pida. I am the customer marketing manager at People.ai and I used to work on Margot’s team back at Rubrik. I’ve been a listener of the podcast and have taken educational tidbits here and there. Helped me tremendously throughout my career to just refine what I do. I’m actually really excited to be here to flip the script on Margot because one, it’s a great opportunity to put her in the hot seat, but it’s also a fun opportunity for me to continue on my interviewing skills, I suppose. 

To kick this whole thing off, everyone’s always listening to this podcast and you’re the mystery voice from start to finish. And at the beginning of each episode, you always give us a little glimpse of who you are and your background. Would you be able to share a little bit more about exactly who you are and how you built your career in customer marketing? 

Margot Leong: I’m probably gonna repeat this about a million times throughout this interview, but it is so weird being on this side of the microphone. I am definitely not used to it, but I am going to do my best.

In terms of who I am and how I’ve built my career in customer marketing, I have worked in B2B marketing in the tech world for over a decade now. I actually started off in B2C, but I’ve mostly worked in B2B at a variety of startups, mostly at the seed and series A stage, but also later stage. At this point, I’ve probably experienced every department at a startup outside of product and engineering. 

So I’ve done things like running support teams, running community to pretty much all kinds of marketing. Social, content, product marketing, growth marketing, and of course, customer marketing. Foundationally, the thing that has always really been there and something that I care very deeply about is the customer side of things. So I started off in support and community, but I actually eventually transitioned into marketing and that place where I found that joy and that energy was on the customer side. I loved interacting with customers and hearing their stories about the product, connecting with them as people, and building those relationships. 

Just to get a little bit more granular in terms of the actual journey, my first real foray into this area, I was one of the first 30 people hired at an HR tech company called ZenPayroll. Now known as Gusto. I was running community there and that kind of meant I was the unofficial customer whisperer. People kept naturally coming to me for everything customer related. We need customers for marketing videos or we need them to speak to press, we need reviews for software. Or I remember this one time, a customer showed up at our office just to check it out and they needed someone to give an impromptu tour. And you know, that was me, right? I was that go-to person. 

It’s funny looking back on it now, customer marketing was really not that well known in tech marketing, in B2B marketing. So I didn’t even really know it existed, but it was just such a natural fit because I was on the community side building all these relationships.

At Gusto, I was part of the marketing team there. As I started to get more comfortable within marketing, you know, I also just started thinking, how can I leverage these community chops in terms of being more proactive about using these customers for more material. Created our first customer pages and case studies, right? And I had a writing background, a journalism background, and so it was a nice way to bring all of these things together and of course, get more integrated in with marketing because coming from community and support, I didn’t have a really firm knowledge or background in there. So that was really my first foray. 

 After that I went to another early stage startup called Envoy. I was their first marketing hire. And so I was doing community, social, content marketing. Started bringing in more elements of advocacy and then lifecycle marketing, right? So it’s just continuing to further my skills there. 

And then after that, I was hired at Rubrik where you and I met. That was a company in the IT space. I really feel so grateful to the woman that brought me on, Julia, because she wanted me to hire a team, build out a full fledged, with real budget, customer marketing program. I’d probably say like 50% of the things that she wanted me to do immediately, I had literally no experience doing, like starting a CAB, right off of the gate. I’d also never hired a team before, run a team. 

I really think about this as the peak of my career on the customer marketing side because I was given significant budget to be able to build out a team which owned all these different things ranging from these events to the Influitive community that you eventually ended up taking over, the sales reference program, all these things. I really learned so much because I just got thrown straight in.

 After a few years at Rubrik, I joined a company called Mixpanel to build out their customer advocacy efforts, but then just continued to hone those skills on the retention marketing side.

 And most recently I had joined a company called Around, because I had the opportunity to just fully lead marketing there, which again, I had never done. You know, full on, anything having to do with marketing, so all the stuff I touched on before. But then growth marketing, which was a monster I had no experience in. 

And the great thing is that being so close to the customer, it was just so cool to take demand gen and connect it in with post-purchase and think about how the two could come together. And to really advocate for the customer, even on the growth side of things was so interesting. So we got acquired by a company called Miro. Now I’m just doing more stuff on the consulting side now. 

That has been a valuable career trajectory, at least for me, is dive in, hone, dive in and hone and always trying to be very intentional about whatever role I take next. I think similar to how you are thinking about this current new role for you is you’re very specific about the reasons, the things I’m planning to learn there.

Pida Pairawan: There is one thing I will say when I started at Rubrik that impressed me from you as my mentor. and you taught me and just really how to have a full closed loop with a customer in terms of the experience. And that’s something that I think we sometimes forget or we do it out of necessity or kind of out of habit. 

But you always, I feel like left the customer extremely happy with the experiences that you imparted on them. Whether that was finish off the loop with a little gift or to always make sure you sent them a thank you email or whatever the case was. How did you come to learn those type of skills? Was that something you naturally had? 

Margot Leong: My insistence on follow up and I honestly think I could be better about it still is probably because I was not the best at following up when I was younger. And I always had this in the back of my mind is, I procrastinate on something, I know I would have to get back to someone on something and then I wouldn’t do it. And then I knew that it would come back to bite me in the ass later. 

At that point in my career with customers, I wanted to make sure that we didn’t leave any loose ends. Because we are representatives of the company and we are building relationships for the long term. Any kind of touchpoint that we have with the customer, we have to be closing that loop. And not only are we closing that loop, we are always trying to keep in mind other things that they’ve told us so that we can think of more interesting opportunities for them.

 It’s not the most common practice and so people are used to things dropping off. You’re trying to fill in that goodwill bank, so that whether it’s they refer other companies to you, or they bring in other champions or they’re gonna speak at a conference for you. That’s why I had this insistence of, not only are we gonna try and close the loop with customers so that they know every step of what’s coming next, and that we will go above and beyond, but then like, how can we be the cherry on top of the sundae and we can surprise and delight them as well.

Pida Pairawan: To pivot a little bit, Beating The Drum is coming up on three years since you launched your very first episode. What would you say actually drove you to start the series? What was your inspiration to even bring this whole idea to life? 

Margot Leong: I am a huge fan of podcasts. It was basically in college when I started listening to podcasts and I probably credit podcasts for shaping me as a person through some of my most formative years. I am much more of an audio learner versus a visual learner and so to absorb information in this way, it was a revelation for me. I really fell in love with the medium. 

I’m also a huge public radio nerd. So it was actually my goal after college to become a public radio reporter for NPR. I’ve worked in journalism before, and I worked as like an intern and producer at the local NPR affiliate station when I was in college in San Diego. 

Becoming a public radio reporter did not end up panning out for me, but I always knew that similar to the work in customer marketing, I naturally found a lot of energy from talking to people and asking them questions. That was never something I was nervous about. Like I always knew that I could come up with more questions to ask people. I just love learning about people basically. 

I missed that feeling of being involved with that medium. One of the happiest times of my life was working in public radio, and so I wanted to learn how to create this thing from soup to nuts. And so I was like, okay, if I ever were to do something that would be the medium for me, I’d feel very comfortable there.

 The second thing is like, is there white space in a market? Am I naturally seeing problems that need to be solved? It worked out really well because being in customer marketing, it was still relatively nascent. I couldn’t really find that many resources about it. And the existing ones, a lot of them came from vendors, which vendors are great, but there wasn’t anything that was third party. And I knew for sure they were no consistent, long running podcasts on the subject because I tried to find them. 

 People talk about when you’re creating things, a rule of thumb is if you’re struggling with a problem, there’s probably also people who are struggling with the same problem. So I knew that if I was hungry for these resources, I was sure that there would be other people who felt the same way. 

And if I can be first to market with this kind of podcast, it’s a lot easier to be first to market. It gives you more room to experiment then it is to be the best in a crowded market. That was very appealing to me is that I didn’t have to be like, okay, I’m going to be one of 20 product marketing podcasts or something, right? I knew that if I launched it and it started getting out there, it would be a more easier sell because something like this didn’t really exist.

Lastly, from a personal brand standpoint, I think it worked very well because I’m more spotlight shy. Basically this would give me visibility without it having to be about me too much, so it worked out. Personal brand, that was helpful, and I talked to Nick Bennett about this, I always dread this idea of having to be in a spot where I’m like, okay, let’s say I get laid off or whatever, I have to go search for work. At least having something like this can assist with that. The podcast can at least help my resume stand above the pack if I was ever in that situation. 

Pida Pairawan: For folks coming into this space, customer marketing is not naturally a role that’s going to be in the spotlight. And so we kind of have to find ways to build that personal brand of ours to be able to stand out in this industry. What advice would you actually give to someone like a fellow customer marketing professional who is spotlight shy, but would like to build their personal brand going forward? 

Margot Leong: I mean, just like me. I am extremely spotlight shy, which people may not automatically assume since I have this podcast. Honestly, I found the podcast this really fascinating way to be “in the spotlight,” but to still mostly be out of the spotlight, because it’s the easiest thing in the world for me to get to ask questions and to not have to be put on the spot and come up with the answers, right?

It’s also to say, okay, I built something. And I spent the time on it as a side project and I’m associated with something that people find valuable, so that was a strategic way of doing it. I could have done a podcast where I was just like, these are my thoughts on things. And it’s 15 minute nuggets, which is totally fine too, but there’s a reason why I decided to interview other people.

Pida Pairawan: So it’s easier. It’s easier to hear other people talk. I hear you. Are there any other formats that you ever considered to bring forth your personal brand without having to be there in the spotlight, up on a stage, for example? 

Margot Leong: It’s evolved so much, even in the past five years, 10 years, right? I mean, there’s so many more ways nowadays to build that brand. 

It really ultimately has to come down to what’s going to be something that’s consistent enough for you to build up that credibility. And how do you achieve consistency? You have to enjoy it in some fashion or form or else that initial burst of motivation is going to fade. That’s something that is really important to consider. 

For example, right, some people do these challenges where they’ll say, okay, I’m going to post every single day on LinkedIn, even though it’s like scary. And I’m so proud of those people. Whenever I see them, I think it’s such a scary thing to do that. That is an example. You could write more consistently on LinkedIn, but even commenting more on LinkedIn is like a baby step towards that. People really do read those comments. 

And are you doing this in a way in which you are actively engaged with the material, you really do care about the other person and what they’re contributing and you’re just trying to be part of that conversation contributing value back.

I know some people have started newsletters, running really awesome Slack communities. It has to be consistent and it has to not drain you of energy to do it. It has to actually give you some sort of energy or joy. So if you like writing, if you know that writing is a skill you want to continue to hone, it’s a little bit out of your side of your comfort zone, go for that, right? 

And I’d also say that there’s no need to do something like super long term, like a podcast or a newsletter, because life is full enough without having to take on a side project, but similar to what you said on our episode, I think there is a lot of value in consistently trying to push yourself outside of your own comfort level. That can be a goal in and of itself, whether it is writing more consistently on LinkedIn, or taking the opportunities as they come or preparing to speak at a conference, either virtually or getting up on stage. Those things are inherently scary for people at all different levels.

 But just pushing yourself a little bit, you’ll just be amazed by knocking down that domino. There’s all these other dominoes that will fall and your confidence will just increase so much. 

Pida Pairawan: I know that there’s a lot of people in our space that are shy, that don’t feel inclined to go up there on stage or put themselves out there, it’s just not comfortable, and if you don’t have to, you don’t need to. We can be pretty behind the scenes, which our role usually is, but there are people out there, people like myself, that need to learn, that want to learn, and want to pick up these tribal knowledges that people have about this space that I’m just like, I want to be a sponge. I just want to learn from you, like you’re doing great, whatever the case is. 

And my just selfish need is telling whoever’s listening to just go out there, do something for yourself that makes you feel like you’ve put yourself out there because people need that knowledge. And what we’ve talked about before this is it’s powerful because the only way that we can get better as an industry, as a community, and just as practitioners is to share the knowledge.

And I just want to put a public service announcement out there that this customer marketing industry is probably one of the most supportive industries out there. I feel like we’re in such a good space where people are just naturally very kind and naturally very empathetic and people support each other. People want to be better and people want to share. And that has personally helped me being able to say yes to opportunities of speaking or for someone to maybe come on this podcast is because they feel comfortable sharing this. 

Margot Leong: It’s true. The community is so kind.

Pida Pairawan: Just going down memory lane now and thinking back, what would you say have been some of the conversations that have left just the greatest impressions, like some of the most memorable ones you’ve had?

Margot Leong: I will caveat this by saying the ones that have left the biggest impression on me were really specific to my lens at the time I was interviewing them and my current lens. Every single guest, I’ve come away with either something amazingly tactical or a really strategic point of view that has left me really energized. 

But if I were to boil it down into some of the themes that I found a lot of value from, the first was that general advice for advancing in your career. Of course, there were aspects of this that applied more specifically to customer marketing, but most of it could apply to any role at any company. There’s a difference between, okay, the work itself, how do I run a reference program versus, okay, what are things that will help me advance in my career, the work around the work as it were. 

So topics like gaining more visibility within your department and your company, exerting cross functional influence, which is just something that I’m fascinated by, and I feel terrible at, which is why I like, I would always dig for more of those kernels from people. People like Charlotte Lilley Myriam Diarra, Brittany Rolfe, Kevin Lau, Angela Burke, Alison Bukowski, all these people think so strategically about how to do these things and how to advance in their careers. 

I think another topic is of course, metrics, ROI, which as we know, customer marketing is notoriously fuzzy on these and they’ve been more output based, right? And I noticed even a progression from when I started the podcast three years ago to now, there’s so many more practitioners who are talking on LinkedIn about these things, newsletters, eBooks, all these things. They’re also really trying to push it forward with hard metrics and just different ways of thinking about these metrics, similar to how a traditional growth marketer would do it. So Leslie Barrett, Cynthia Hester, Ari Hoffman, Helen Feber, and I think again, it’s applicable to anyone’s careers. 

I still remember one of those conversations that really impacted me was David Sroka from Point of Reference explaining, okay here’s like a grid of four categories of goals that executives really care about. You just have to think about how do I translate what I’m doing to that language? How do I align to those goals? Maybe I have to rethink the goals, right? But how do I come in and think about it more as a consultant versus this very tactical mindset. That has been super valuable. 

The last one that was just more enjoyable and fun to me, was also just interesting ways of telling customer stories that resonate. We’re basically trying to tell customer stories in a way that other people will care about, prospects usually. In a world where we’re sort of constantly bombarded with information, things that are trying to make us react in some way emotionally, how do you compete with that? 

One of my favorite episodes was with Theo Hopkinson, where we just riffed on different ways of telling those customer stories and talking about companies that we thought were doing this really well. That definitely took a lot more preparation than my normal podcast episodes. But it was so enjoyable and I got so much energy from that. 

And then I think also conversations with people like Lauren Locke-Padden about how to create that more authentic customer content. That conversation really influenced how I thought about this topic. And just again, how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you think about making that switch from I am a content producing machine to how do I become a effective content producing machine, which is two different ways of thinking about that, right? 

So, Leslie Patterson or Janet Dulsky, they think about really unique ways on how to structure their teams for success, or The Captivate Collective team and Luis Gonzalez, they take a lot of inspiration from B2C for their B2B engagement models. To have access to their brains to then start seeing these patterns and start applying these frameworks, that’s massive. 

Pida Pairawan: The personal episode I always think about is actually one that related to my previous senior director, Jessica. I had no idea what her career looked like. And if it wasn’t for your podcast, I probably wouldn’t have known. 

But it’s just very refreshing to see how someone didn’t naturally go into customer marketing in the traditional path, they moved around the different organizations and ended up there because it was just a natural fit or it was the opportunity.

Margot Leong: I loved how she talked about, okay, not taking yourself and the work too seriously, and it was really nice to hear a very refreshing and honest take on that because working in this industry, it can feel like everything is urgent. Everything is on your shoulders. It’s a lot to balance. I thought that was really refreshing. I also loved how she took a lot of opportunities on the chin, I’m going to try out all these different departments within the same company. I’ve never done this type of marketing or that type of marketing, but I’m going to do it and I’m sure I can figure it out. Like I have common sense and I have instincts, and that really resonates with how I think about things as well. 

Pida Pairawan: How do you feel this series, like you’ve talked to so many people now and gotten so much information, but how do you feel like this series has actually helped you as a practitioner? And as a person? 

Margot Leong: I think a lot of us that have been doing customer marketing for a while, we picked it up on the job instead of having ” customer marketing mentorship”, right? Every job I did in customer marketing, I just fumbled through it and figured out myself. And so all the guests on this show served as mini mentors. Outside of all of the amazing tactical advice, it really helped me see things from a much more macro, bird’s eye view lens. How does my work actually benefit the company at a high level and aligning your goals with that? 

 When I was at Rubrik, I thought I was being strategic, but honestly talking to the guests, like made me realize there was this whole other level of strategy that I could not even comprehend at the time. I wasn’t even thinking about that. And that has helped me so much in other roles. 

The other thing is realizing what we do as customer marketers, you can never go wrong with being on the side of the customer, having the customer centric view, because in most companies, most departments are cut off from the customer. They’re doing all their own stuff, but they are removed from that empathy, realizing the problems that we help solve, thinking about how can we solve more of those problems. We’re some of the people that know our customers best, maybe even more than product marketing, because we’re really developing those relationships. I think it can be a very powerful combination. 

I actually did not see this until I stepped out of customer marketing into a marketing role. I wanted to hire people that had that empathy for the customer, but that could combine that with, do you have that macro view? Are you thinking about how this benefits the company as a whole? I think you can go a lot of places if you take that customer view and you hold that very tight, but then you combine it with these other skills.

You asked as well, like, how did it help me as a person? It helped me tremendously. I struggle a lot with confidence and I’ve definitely become more confident from doing this. You know, approaching people that I didn’t know to come on the podcast, I had no credibility when I was starting out. Nobody knew who I was, right, in the customer marketing world. I hadn’t really made much of an effort to do that before and to reach out to people cold. And then of course, creating something like this from soup to nuts, I developed confidence in the act of doing it.

Lastly, one of the areas I was very nervous about was getting sponsorships. There was a period of time in which I had sponsors on the podcast and it’s really nerve wracking to essentially ask people for money and to back up why it would be a good investment for them. 

But now that I’ve done it, that’s a skill that can transfer to anything. People talk about selling as one of the core skills that can help you in your personal life and I really believe in that now having had to do that. I’m just so thankful to this show because it really has increased my confidence and just the realization like, yeah, like I can do this thing and all these things that seem scary are no longer scary. 

Pida Pairawan: If you could go back, what kind of advice would you actually give your younger self? 

Margot Leong: Number one is that there’s the work itself and then there’s the work around the work. If it is your goal to advance in your career, I would seriously spend more time thinking about what does it mean to be truly strategic and an asset to the company at a high level? What are the challenges that the company is dealing with? And then coming to your manager with ideas on how to solve them, not waiting for them to tell you what to do. Really learning how to build those relationships with people at all different levels. Establishing those weak ties and exerting cross-functional influence.

I honestly learned about that through the podcast because it was not something that I am naturally skilled at nor wanted to spend much time on because I was like, yeah, like the work itself is enough. Basically, I have enough on my plate without having to do all these other things. 

Through the podcast and seeing how people operate, the people that are most successful in this industry, and I think, honestly, in any industry, they are skilled at thinking about things at that macro level. There’s a lot of value to getting that into people’s heads at an earlier level of their career, because it takes that long to start honing these skills. If you can start to think in this way, you’ll be such an asset to wherever you go and you start coming up with ways to solve problems. 

Pida Pairawan: I think when you’re new in your career, wow. You have such blinders on. You only see the work that’s ahead of you and just how to move on day by day or to the next task. Where you’re touching on is , that I feel like is an unnatural muscle for personally myself to flex because it’s not a natural thing for me to do. I’m such a people pleaser where I’m like, okay, they’re asking me for this task and I’m going to make sure I deliver on that. But then you kind of lose sight of what is that solving or how can I bring that value in the long run? 

So do you have any more examples for someone that is new how to start thinking about how to be more strategic about their role? 

Margot Leong: I would say that if you are at a point or at a company which is putting together things like all hands, which most companies will do once they hit a certain number of employees, even when they’re quite small. There’s a lot of work that goes into these all hands. Usually there’s tidbits from the executives that hint to, okay, what are the company goals? And what are the things that we care about at this specific time? There’s usually all hands that are specifically about those metrics. 

And I would study those like crazy because that is a very clear indication of where the company is trying to go and maybe it just also hints at some of the challenges that they’re having. I would then look at, okay, like what are our current goals within this team and think about, okay, does that align with what the company’s goals are. 

And if not, even just coming to your manager and your one on one and saying, Hey like, I noticed that in the company all hands, they talked about this as a goal. Is this something that we are cognizant of? Is it something that we’re trying to align towards? I’d love to chat about it and just raise my hand if I could be helpful in any way.

Even if your manager does not take you up on that. We’re working on it, but it’s not something I can give you at this time, but I really appreciate it. That is such a huge step for someone to be able to take because it shows that you’re putting together the pieces. You’re thinking at a longer term, like, how can I make the company better? How can I make my department look good? As a manager, that’s music to my ears. And it puts this person, like it puts like a little star over their head. So massive. 

The second piece is not being afraid to push back and ask why. Angela Burke brought this up in her podcast interview, and that’s just always really stuck with me. We’re the customer whisperers, right? At the same time, we want to be super helpful. Everybody wants to ask us for help with things because we are the people that have developed these relationships and we’re figuring out how to juggle all of that and to sort of pull those strings.

And so you want to balance being helpful, but I think I wish I would have took more of a stand and really just said, Hey before we make this ask, I think it would be helpful. Let’s schedule a call. I would really like to understand more about a) like why you need this and b) how this is strategic to the company’s goals and see how can we make this process better for everyone in the future and get ahead of this. Maybe I have access to customers that you may have not even thought about or trends or interesting things that I’m picking up. So how can I use this as a relationship to build that bridge versus we’ll create content for you or we’ll find a customer for you. 

Pida Pairawan: It’s also really hard as a customer marketer who usually is always really spread thin. Sometimes we’re just team of one or team of few. And as that person that’s just spread really thin, if you don’t understand the North Star of what you’re doing, then it’s going to be really hard to deliver on the expectations of what you’re putting forth. So if you don’t understand why you’re having a CAB, then how are you supposed to make sure that you’re getting all that you want from it? 

I think a lot of people in this space are people pleasers or just we’re naturally more empathetic. A natural tendency might be to not necessarily push back unless you’ve learned that skill or you’ve been in a situation where you have to. What kind of advice would you have for someone that might be a little bit more shy and not as necessarily confrontational? 

Margot Leong: I am non-confrontational. I am very naturally don’t want to push back. I naturally wanna make everyone happy. But again, honing that skill is very valuable for your career going forward, which is why it’s important to push past that fear.

But I think framing it in the lens of, okay, helping me fully understand what it is you need will ultimately benefit you. It has to come back to, okay, like how this will benefit you in the long run versus in the short term.

You are always going to have issues where you’re spread thin and people need stuff now. You have to balance can I prove my credibility and validate my work through these quick wins? Which is something that people have talked about the podcast, like Tiffany K how do I balance quick wins at a fast growing startup with also trying to think about how do I set myself up for strategic long term success? 

I think that figuring out that balance of okay, yes, I can set these things up, as I’m figuring out how to audit this current landscape of what people actually need. In the meantime, I’m getting thrown requests. I can prove that I can do these things.

But then I’m also going to have to lean on those people to then figure out, how can we make this a better process in the future? So it’s not just constant fire drills. And then again, for me to be more of a partner with you in the long run, understanding what it is that you need as a department. What are your goals? How can we partner to maybe achieve some company goals is fantastic. 

But again, it benefits them to have that partnership with you, but you may have to achieve some of those quick wins first to build up that trust essentially. You have to earn that trust at least in the beginning, but as you start to earn that, I do think that then starting to ask why sooner rather than later is important as well. So you get to be known as that person that’s not afraid to be seen as more strategic. 

Pida Pairawan: Yeah. And also asking why isn’t necessarily always confrontational, it’s really just, Hey, just help me understand, like you said. Help me understand how to better help you because I want to make sure I do my best job for you as well.

If you’re asking for this and we both see that it’s a need, help me help you in other words. 

Margot Leong: Exactly. I would say the last one, it’s funny to say in an industry specific, customer marketing specific podcast. And it’s very specific to me, but don’t be too concerned about picking a specific lane and sticking with it. I don’t think there’s a need to over specialize. These guests have shown on the show, they have such varied backgrounds and the thing that ties them together is that they just care so deeply about customers. That customer centric view will serve you so well in the long-term. 

 If you’re in one type of marketing and you have the opportunity or want to try another type of marketing, and it seems interesting, go for it, right? Having all of these different influences only strengthened my work as a customer marketer because I had so much more depth of natural understanding of how I could help these teams and ultimately, the company. 

When you first start your career, you’re a piece of the puzzle, and it’s only by understanding some of these other pieces more in detail that you can really then start to see a much better sense of how all the puzzle fits together. 

I wouldn’t worry about, I must be like an expert in this thing and only do this for the next 20 years of my life. If you would like to do that, I’m totally not knocking it, but I would dispel any expectation around specialization because I think it’s actually the mixing of the influences that make you ultimately a stronger, more interesting candidate to companies in the future.

Pida Pairawan: I also think it’s a matter of how far can you go within this one space before it becomes repetitive for you. That’s why it’s so important to work cross functionally. That’s your one exposure to first starting to learn about these different departments and when you work with someone from a different department, you’re naturally learning.

Within customer marketing, it’s so easy to go into different fields like community or case studies or CABs and be very siloed in that just find your corner and staying with it. And I love that you say don’t specialize because the muscle of customer marketing is so wide. It’s so deep and wide that you can touch on any field and be a general practitioner and be really successful. You can evolve and you will. And I always see those type of roles as stepping stones versus the end all be all.

But customer marketing is a great first experience into the marketing world. I think you just naturally become more empathetic and more overall rounded. That’s what customer advocacy and customer marketing brings to you is just like that human element that sometimes i from marketing itself.

You’ve been in this space so long and learned so much from it, but I hear that you’re no longer in customer marketing. Now that you’ve conquered this passion project and moved on with different goals in your life, what’s next for you now that the series is over? 

Margot Leong: The ironic thing is that around the time I started this podcast, I had basically was essentially transitioning out of doing customer marketing full time and so a lot of that time was spent leveraging my previous experience in customer marketing to be able to ask these questions. The customer thing will always be with me. It’s something that I just care so deeply about and I get so much energy from. 

I’ve been on the general marketing side for a little bit now. I’m currently doing consulting, I’m actually working on starting my own business, which is a website to help B2B marketers. I do plan on doing another podcast in the future, probably about entrepreneurship because I am endlessly fascinated by this topic. The takeaway from doing this podcast is that I just continue to love podcasts and I will probably do another one in the next few years, so yeah. 

Pida Pairawan: Well, it’s a passion project and you conquered a passion project goal. So kudos to you. Is there anything else before we wrap up here that you would like to say before we finish this podcast up?

Margot Leong: One more thing I’d like to add is that I’m so grateful to everybody that’s listened, whether you’re someone that’s been listening from the beginning or you’re newer to the show. When I thought about what my goals for the podcast were, I was very specific about not wanting to think about listenership numbers, holding myself to any specific metrics, probably because I knew it would affect me very negatively if I did not hit those numbers, like I would be very self critical. 

Then I reframed how I thought about success and even if just one other person other than me finds this content valuable, then I know that I can feel good about it. It’s more of the act of creating a thing and then knowing that other people have found it helpful. It has been just uplifting and humbling for people to reach out about the show and just tell me that they enjoyed it. Or guests in the customer marketing world that I hold in such high esteem that I never thought would even know about my show, but they actually listen. That’s crazy to me. I know that there are many of you as well who listen that I have never had the chance to speak with, but I’m just grateful that people have me and other guests in their ears every other week about this topic. I’m just super appreciative. 

I think I just wanted to say thank you to everyone. Everyone should please reach out to me at any time. I love to meet new people. LinkedIn is probably the best place to find me, just like everybody else. 

 One of the last things that I would want to leave people with is actually this quote from Steve Jobs. And I think it really changed my perception of what is possible to do in life personally, professionally, like anything that you want to pursue, not having to ask permission. And so he says, ” Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. And the minute that you understand that you can poke life and you can push it in, something will pop out the other side. You can change it and you can mold it and that’s maybe the most important thing is to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.”

This quote I was introduced to when I was at Gusto and it’s really shaped the way that I think about a lot of things that I do in my life. Absolutely has shaped how I thought about the podcast. The realization that you do not need permission from anyone to start something, whether it’s a podcast or newsletter or whatever, posting on LinkedIn, the podcast is proof of that. That you can take something that is an idea in your head, and you can turn it into a reality and that people can find that useful and helpful, that’s something that has really proved out to me with doing this. 

And yeah, I hope that people that are listening who might be scared or don’t have the highest self confidence just like me, realize that these things are possible and you can do them in your own way. And your life can be vastly changed as a result and it will change the way you think about everything in your life going forward. 

Pida Pairawan: Margot, I want to thank you on behalf of the customer marketing industry for helping us grow. It is individuals like you that put our niche industry on the map. I wish you all the success with your next adventure. I know your next podcast is going to be phenomenal, but there you have it, folks. This is Beating The Drum. 

Margot Leong: Thank you, Pida. Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me and it’s been a great experience, so thank you. 

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, beatingthedrum.com. Take care, everybody.

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