#148: Getting In The Mud aka Carrying The Water 3.0

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This is a podcast episode titled, #148: Getting In The Mud aka Carrying The Water 3.0. The summary for this episode is: Data can only get you so far. On this episode of Seeking Wisdom, DC and DG are talking about the limitations of data, and why the most important thing you can do to scale your business is to get in the mud. Because getting in the mud means getting closer to your customers. It means getting your hands dirty and talking to them openly about their pain points. That’s where you’ll find all the answers you’re looking for.

Andy: All right.

DC: You hear that?

Andy: Before the copyright Gods get us out of here.

DC: I got the black Timbs.

Andy: Yeah, you do. crosstalk. Got to get you a black hoodie.

DC: He doesn't know I was you miss people. You miss what? I was telling the guns and DG how are you still rolling to the club? 30 deep. They don't know about this stuff.

Andy: 30 deep, DC?

DC: That was some New York stuff.

Andy: Yeah.

DC: There we go.

Andy: Oh, no. That's was Staten island. Staten Island's too real-

DC: Too real.

Andy: Too real.

DC: No. I was in Queens.

Andy: Too real. All right. What's up, everybody? Today, on Seeking Wisdom, DC and I are going to talk about getting in the mud and doing the work, aka carry the water. Plus, I wanted to just-

DC: crosstalk Carry the Water 3.0?

Andy: Carry the Water, 3. 0. That's a hot name. Plus, I want to do a recap from Traffic& Conversion Summit. I want to talk about something that we're doing next week. I want my favorite DC quote of the week and I want to revisit one of the most classic business books of all time. We're getting a little tighter on this show because-

DC: I was just going to say, people, if you're a sub, which you should, because G2 is desperate for the subs and he needs them for life, their love and life. He needs love. crosstalk This is episode 148-

Andy: 148.

DC: I want you to write this down. This is the first time in 147 episodes where I have had notes in my hand.

Andy: It's fact. It's fact. But look-

DC: I haven't read them though.

Andy: ...let's not stray from what the show is. I don't expect you to prep. My job is to prepare.

DC: Mission accomplished.

Andy: Then, you're the talent. My job is to get stuff out of you.

DC: Right. Let's do this.

Andy: That's what this is. So let's talk about this email that you sent to the team the other night, and we'll talk about your newsletter and how to get there and all that stuff-

DC: drift.com/ dc?

Andy: Oh, that's pretty good.

DC: Okay.

Andy: Is that a good URL? That's a good URL. drift.com/ dc.

DC: It's simple.

Andy: SEO people don't like those URLs, but I like those URLs a lot.

DC: It's for people in the know crosstalk.

Andy: It's for humans.

DC: It's for humans.

Andy: Exactly. So let's talk about getting in the mud. You said you sent an email to the team, by the way, double- sided. I print double- sided because I'm long on the environment, Andy's planet.

DC: Okay. Andy's planet.

Andy: DC, let's talk about getting in the mud. One of the things keeping me up at night is that as we appear to be defaulting to management by data metrics process only, okay, I love data, but it's like driving a car using only the rear view mirror. It tells you what happened, not what is going to happen. This tendency is also referred to as managing by proxy. crosstalk So I love this one so much-

DC: You do?

Andy: ...because this it's the ultimate both, right? It's the ultimate example of both, because if you've been listening to the show or maybe you're at Drift and you get these emails and you've been talking a lot about systems and data and measuring and process. Did you get people respond to this? Do people respond to these emails or crosstalk

DC: They respond to the emails, I'll have you know, or have, but what I will also have you know is this email right here that we're talking about here, was the most responded to email ever as people's favorites.

Andy: Really?

DC: Uh- huh( affirmative). You didn't know that. crosstalk. I was going to tell you that-

Andy: So we got to double click. How would I know that?

DC: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Andy: It goes to your inbox and what did they say?" Good email, DC?"

DC: A lot of people were fired up. They said this one was the most practical for them. They knew how to apply this one and they kind of echoed some of the same worries and making sure that we stay focused on what matters.

Andy: So, okay. You have this quote from Howard Schultz," Success will only come to those willing to get their hands dirty." That goes back to a lot of things that you have. So last night, I was at Harvard Business School. Excuse me. There's a mug on my desk, actually.

DC: Okay.

Andy: Third time I've been there in a month- and- a- half. I didn't go there though.

DC: Oh, really?

Andy: That's weird.

DC: You weren't allowed crosstalk

Andy: I always show this tweet. So I've given the same presentation now for years. I make it better every time, but always show this-

DC: Are you a guest lecturer or something?

Andy: I'm a guest lecturer.

DC: Okay.

Andy: Yeah. I'm a guest lecturer, a guest lecturer in a hoodie. I always show this tweet from you. It's a tweet from 2016 and it's talking about doing the things that don't scale and hand- to- hand combat and doing all the hand- to- hand. We always been saying that since the beginning crosstalk hand-in-hand and I always say," Look, I think everybody at startups knows you go to a business school class, or you go to any class, anything about management and you say," How many of you have read Paul Graham's essay about things that don't scale?" Everybody raises their hand crosstalk but nobody actually does it.

DC: No.

Andy: So what do you mean at this stage of our company, 300- ish people at Drift, give me an example crosstalk of getting in the mud.

DC: Before I do, DG has some talents and one of his hidden crosstalk talents that people don't know about is that he is a historian. He keeps track of everyone on everything, so I salute him because I say so many things that I forget, but he has them all written down in history.

Andy: Let me tell you something else. I have them all because I'm long on Drift, but there's this little hack with DC where he says something and you remember it, and then you bring it up a couple of weeks later, he'll be like," Man, that's a good idea." I'm like," Yeah, crosstalk because that was your idea."

DC: Never tell me that crosstalk Don't tell me that.

Andy: 75% of the success that I've had at Drift is because I spit back your own ideas to you.

DC: I'm like," Wow. That's amazing. I never thought of that. That's great." But let's get an example of here of getting in the mud.

Andy: Okay.

DC: So the reason I think this is important as companies scale, so it has a little bit to do with what stage we're in, but probably applies to everyone who's listening to this. They get to a point, let's say, at the companies that they're working with or working at and where people start to get comfortable measuring not wanting to get their hands dirty anymore, i. e., getting in the mud as Howard Schultz said. What they want to do is what we call it here and Bezos calls as well, the managing through proxy. So an example would be instead of going and talking to the customer and dealing with the pain that the customer may inflict on you because you're not doing X, Y, or Z, instead, it's better to manage using a Google spreadsheet and to manage on proxy events like," Did the salesperson make a phone call today? Did they send an email? Did the CSM send an email? Did they make an attempt? Is the customer onboarded? Yes? No?" Because those numbers don't yell back at you, so you don't get real feedback. As you do that, you keep distancing yourself away from what really matters and losing sight and trying to manage, as I say here, using the rear view mirror, which is data.

Andy: How do you want somebody to balance that because you say on one hand you do need to look at the data, but then the other hand you want to get in the mud. How do you balance having the data driven approach, but also like getting your hands dirty?

DC: My favorite quote on this comes from Steve Blank, godfather of lean-

Andy: The godfather of customer development crosstalk.

DC: Customer development, which led to lean startups and read his stuff. Steve Blank, Four Steps to the Epiphany, is his famous book. His quote was," The truth is always outside the building." The real answer, the truth that you seek is never inside the building. It's never in the spreadsheet. It's never in the data. It's always outside of the building and so the best thing you can do, whether you're a tiny little startup or a massive company, whether you're a product person or a marketing person or a salesperson, is to get to the closest, to the source of the truth, which is the customer. If you're in marketing often in marketing, you think that that's not applicable to you, but DG will tell you that's the best gems that you find and the real bonds that you build, back to hand- to- hand combat, are always out in the market with your market, with your customers, your fans, the people out there.

Andy: So much. I learned this lesson over and over and over again and you've helped me learn it. But so much of, I don't know, a homepage headline, a podcast topic, an idea for your video comes from what we call, this is not a scientific name, but another play for our playbook, is we call it'their words.'

DC: Yes. Their words.

Andy: Right? We always say," Use their words," their words, meaning not what somebody inside of Drift who's thinking about Drift 247 as a marketer is thinking about, but somebody off the street who's thinking about Drift maybe one out of every three days. How do they explain our product? That line of copies sold gold.

DC: Sold gold.

Andy: The other thing, though, is shout out to Steve Blank for that. I think V1 was get outside of the building, but I actually think that in 2019, there's so many ways that you can get outside of the building without actually having to do it.

DC: Yeah, for sure.

Andy: Right.? You can read comments on Amazon. God forbid you replied to every email that somebody sent your business, or comments on social media or Quora or Reddit. There's all these places where you can find what people are saying about your company, your industry without ever having to leave the building.

DC: That's why the ego is always the enemy, because so many people who I talked to who want to write a book, launch a podcast, sell a product, do whatever, especially if they're a consumer. You ask them a simple thing like," Have you read the reviews? Have you read the feedback on other people who have done that, let's say, on Amazon?" I'll give you an example. The answer is almost 100% of the time. I've actually never met anyone who has done it, who have never gone out and started with a research= based approach first and say," What are people saying right now? What are they saying they hate about this black hoodie? What did they say they love about it?" If I'm going to build a black hoodie, then I'd better go find out what people love and hate about this thing first, by getting that secondhand research and then going out and talking to customers myself and getting that firsthand research.

Andy: If there's an exec on your exec team here at Drift, as CEO. If somebody presents to you data, but then, they also have an insight based on three conversations had with customers over lunch. Is that a different layer to that problem that they're presenting to you?

DC: Definitely. For me, I've always found in that example, the insights from the customers, even though they're statistically not significant, right? Let's throw in that example, are always way more telling way more actionable and way more important to the business than whatever they can show me in the data.

Andy: Yes.

DC: Every single time, it never fails, but we never want to do it because it's uncomfortable because, like I said, spreadsheets don't question you. You can make up your own stories that you want based on the data that you're looking at, which is the thing I think many people discount, which they think data is the truth, but it's not the truth. It's because I can tell you any story with any data-

Andy: Sure. We spin it, right? I've been there. You're behind in a number, I'm going to spend this day's story into something that-

DC: This is what it means-

Andy: This is what it means.

DC: You should read Freakonomics. You should see some of the stuff in there and those are good examples. You can spin anything.

Andy: So there's a lot of good stuff in here, including a lesson from DC from Jeff Bezos. Go subscribe to the newsletter, drift.com/ dc to get it. But before we move on from this topic, how are you? You're doing something new, I've noticed. You're getting in the mud. You're getting back deep in the mud every Friday. Tell me about what you're doing.

DC: So every Friday, what I'm doing, I had to think there for a second crosstalk

Andy: You're like, what am I, which is a bad question. I can't ask you that you're doing a customer lunch. Tell me about the lunch.

DC: I'm back in hand-to- hand combat. Customer lunch is happening every week. They're usually on a Friday and so they'll happen in different cities.

Andy: You send either a video or audio. You sent audio from last week, you had one. It was like brrh.

DC: It was amazing. So from having lunch with, in this case, three to five customers at once was more telling, I learned more in that interaction than I had looking at all the data, having all the internal conversations that I'd had for that week, maybe even that month, in one conversation. So I'm doing those every week and I'm making that part of my weekly playbook where I have to spend at least one lunch out with customers and I'm doing that at different cities as I travel.

Andy: What did you learn? You don't have to share specifically, but did you learn something that we were talking about internally that then, you talked to customers outside and validated it without data?

DC: I actually learned some of that for sure, but more so I learned for what was really happening from the customer's viewpoint-

Andy: That doesn't show up.

DC: ...that doesn't show up and that we couldn't explain just by simply looking at the data. So there were some questions that we had internally in different groups that we were unsure what to make of the data. We had tried different approaches that, trying to fix it, trying to correct it, correct what we were seeing in the data and we didn't see any impact on that. But by having even one lunch with three customers, I knew what the root cause was, in their words.

Andy: So good. So here's what I want you to do. I want you to tweet @DCancel. Tweet at DC and tell him how you got in the mud this week, okay?# getinthemud. Let's see. I want to know how you've done something that doesn't scale, how you've gotten outside of the building, how you've gotten back in the mud. What else did I want to talk to you about? Okay. We had a little travel last week.

DC: Oh, yeah. DG's traveling like crazy.

Andy: I'm dead. I'm dead. So I was in San Diego last week.

DC: Yep.

Andy: Lovely place. I stayed in a company- friendly hotel. We're going to have to change that policy. It was tough.

DC: It was tough?

Andy: It was tough. It was tough to be away. You always say," Oh, is it nice? You don't have to wake up early. You don't have any kids." I'm like," Not in this hotel."

DC: In a different hotel?

Andy: Yeah. crosstalk.

DC: Where I stay is okay?

Andy: Where you stay is fine. I texted Jim. I said," You'd better change this travel policy," and he's been in some of those hotels with me.

DC: Oh, yeah?

Andy: So I was in San Diego.

DC: Did you have to sleep in the bathtub? crosstalk.

Andy: I didn't sleep in the bathtub, but crosstalk was this old hotel-

DC: Back in the day, when you would live in a crime- ridden neighborhood like South Central or New York, you knew where you're in a bad neighborhood where people would sleep in the bathtub because that would deflect the bullets in case the bullets came in. crosstalk. So you didn't have to sleep in the bathtub, so crosstalk.

Andy: It wasn't that bad. No. crosstalk No. No, and there was a smoothie place next door and I was totally fine. crosstalk The hotel, it was like a shared room. You walk into this entrance and whoever I was staying next to was in and out all night. It was just a disaster. Anyway, went to Traffic& Conversion Summit, shout out to our friends at Digital Marketer.

DC: What would I have done in that situation? I would have left.

Andy: I've been in this situation with you. You'd pull out your phone. You'd go to a hotel tonight crosstalk find a better hotel and you'd go there. I was like," I'm hungry. I'm tired. I'm not paying for this. I want to go to sleep." So San Diego was amazing. I did something new, which was try to sell books on stage for the first time.

DC: How did that go?

Andy: It was amazing. It was amazing and I learned so much. There's so many things that I got to make better, but I tried to actually sell something at the end of the presentation. The response was awesome. It was really cool to just get that feedback directly, but I learned a lesson as a marketer, which is like, I think so many times as marketing people, but the goal of marketing is to help the sales team sell sometimes, right?

DC: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Yep.

Andy: But I think marketers don't often sell and so, I had to feel the pressure of," I'm going to get out there. I'm going to make this offer and then holy shit, nothing's going to happen." So if I can't sell it, how is our sales team going to sell it?

DC: Not going to happen.

Andy: So we did that. That was a lot of fun and then, I'm going back to San Diego Sunday night. We got to go. We're going to go see our friends at Outreach. inaudible going to be there doing a bunch of videos.

DC: It's beautiful, San Diego, lovely Mexican food, good weather. Look outside. San Diego sounds good to me.

Andy: So if you're going to be at Outreach Unleash, hit me up.

DC: Okay.

Andy: We're doing something different. DC is in my head about do fun things at events, right? Do not do a badge scanner booth.

DC: If you happen to be in San Diego for this event, I will only say this: bring a camera.

Andy: Bring a camera.

DC: Bring a camera. When you see DG, there's going to be some interesting inaudible.

Andy: Bring your camera. We can talk about it. We're doing two workouts. We're doing a workout each morning of the event. It's going to be amazing and then from there, we're going to Demandbase ABM Summit in San Francisco.

DC: For sure. Well, we have some other plays going on in San Diego-

Andy: Oh-

DC: Yeah. Don't tell them about that-

Andy: ...Oh, that picture?

DC: Don't tell them about that.

Andy: Oh my God, I almost forgot.

DC: Oh, you almost forgot.

Andy: I won't tell them crosstalk.

DC: So don't tell them crosstalk

Andy: I won't I won't I won't. crosstalk

DC: All right. So see my homies. They're going to be in San Diego and San Francisco, but I want to talk to you about that I see right here.

Andy: What?

DC: Sometimes I worry, and I often say," I think we give too much." There's too much giving-

Andy: Do we?

DC: ...happening for the show.

Andy: Okay.

DC: Here's an example.

Andy: Yes.

DC: Maggie-

Andy: Yes.

DC: ...The Truth Crowley.

Andy: Maggie has the best podcast.

DC: Yeah. She has the best podcast on the network. We're renaming the Seeking Wisdom Network to the Hypergrowth Podcast Network. Seeking Wisdom is just one show. So on the Hypergrowth Network, she has the best show. Let me give you a little example here. Episode 17, she had a conversation with Cathy Pearl from Google. You may have heard of Google on Conversation Design. Episode 18, she had one of my favorite episodes, on measuring product market fit. So it's especially relevant to people who have startups or thinking about starting a startup with my homie, the founder and CEO of superhuman, Raul. He also started, what was his last company?

Andy: Reportive.

DC: Reportive. I was an investor in both. I'm sorry, Raul. I forgot the name.

Andy: DC's got your back. Great product.

DC: Great product and then lastly, episode 19, amazing response.

Andy: I saw the most tweets about this episode-

DC: This episode had the most with our homie Matt Kaplan who used to run product at LogMeIn and now he runs product at Acquia and he did a whole thing on how product managers could use storytelling. What did you think of that one?

Andy: I didn't listen to it.

DC: Oh boy.

Andy: I haven't listened to it. I saw the tweets.

DC: It's amazing.

Andy: Maggie's awesome at what she does and I'm pumped about growing the network. The epiphany was, this is not the Seeking Wisdom Podcast Network. It is the Hypergrowth Podcast Network, because it goes beyond the show into events, into everything we do. I know you don't read my notes, so I'm not going to let you gloss over this before we go. We got about five minutes left. I caught you re- reading Crossing the Chasm.

DC: That's too much to tell the people.

Andy: Can you talk about that?

DC: So I'm back to re- read the greats.

Andy: I actually don't care. I don't care which book you're re- reading. I want to talk about I catch you rereading books all the time and I think it's super interesting. So you don't have to talk about why you're rereading the book, but talk about that habit and how it works.

DC: So, I often go back to, and this is one of the reading hacks, tricks, whatever you want to call it, or a habit. Let's call it a habit because that's better, a habit that I lean into, which is to often go revisit the greats. So the books that I've had been super meaningful and by the way, I have a new podcast coming out.

Andy: Yes.

DC: First guest is my homie, Corey Thomas.

Andy: What did he say? Both/ and?

Speaker 3: And.

Andy: And?

DC: Yeah. Yeah. So he's the CEO of Rapid7, public company. One of the questions that I'm asking all my guests is this question," Which book have you re- read the most?"

Andy: Ooh, good one.

DC: Right? So back to this topic. He gave me a great answer, but what's interesting is you have to go back to the books that have had the most meaning to you and have stood the test of time because as you switch your context, as you grow, as you hit new situations, as you're in new areas in your life, you're going to pull different lessons out of those books. So I'm revisiting for probably the sixth time, Crossing the Chasm.

Andy: Love it.

DC: If you haven't read that that's MBA 101 right there, virtual MBA 101. It's about, basically, the stages that all products go through in the adoption curve on the market of going from people who are early adopters, all the way to the late majority and I'm pulling an entirely new set of lessons out of here, given the stage that I'm in right now and that we're in together at Drift.

Andy: I love that lesson because this is actually why I've shifted back probably in the last year to buy only physical books. If it's a classic, business book like that, I only buy physical books. I just caught myself, literally, I did this lesson last week one of the great books you put me on last year, two years ago was Jim Rowan's Seven Strategies for Wealth and Happiness. I was feeling like I was drowning in my schedule and I had too many things to do-

DC: That's the book to pick up.

Andy: ...and he has a great section about time management. So for the last two weeks, I don't know if you know this, but your boy has been on fire. What I've been doing is I've literally in this notebook that I have, which Annie now decorated.

DC: It looks nice crosstalk.

Andy: It looks nice. The night before I literally write down the time of the day that I'm going to get those things done, so now I can basically take-

DC: So that explains it? Everybody here, attention. Attention, everyone needs to get a copy of this book because the homie over here, the young nephew, I don't give him compliments much-

Andy: That's fine. It's fine-

DC: He's been on fire. crosstalk You said you were taking performance- enhancing drugs.

Andy: I am taking some. I'm taking athletic greens.

DC: Okay. That must be it.

Andy: Maybe you heard of it?

DC: Yeah. Yeah.

Andy: So this morning, I wrote: workout, 5: 30; post outreach promo at seven 30; add YouTube video at 9: 00; do the afterburner copy doc at 9: 30, do the podcast layout from 10 to 12 and have lunch, get a coffee. Then the rest of my day is doing Seeing Wisdom and two, three interviews.

DC: Listen to that.

Andy: So I've gotten all that stuff done. I tuned out everything else and that's been a game changer, but that was because I went back and revisited the Jim Rowan book, who said that if you don't manage your time, somebody else is going to manage it for you and that's been a huge thing the last two weeks.

DC: One thing that you made me think about when you said you were buying the physical copies of the books.

Andy: Yes.

DC: One error that I see people make, which I used to make, is that they get so caught up on if there's a great book, like the Jim Rowan book, I get this question all the time," Which format should I get it in?"

Andy: I don't know.

DC: What? I don't know.

Andy: How do you learn?

DC: What do you mean? Here's what I do when I have a great book like Good to Great, I have a physical copy.

Andy: Totally.

DC: I have a Kindle copy. I was coming into work today and I had only my iPad with me, so I bought Good to Great the iBooks edition because it works well on the iPad. I probably have five copies of that book right now.

Andy: Great.

DC: No problem. No sweat.

Andy: Can you pick up right where you left off, and there's an awesome feature on the Kindle where if you're listening to it, it sinks where you crosstalk.

DC: Yeah. I have the audio version too, so maybe I have six copies of it. crosstalk My point here-

Andy: 11 bucks? 12 bucks?

DC: My point here is don't waste the precious cognitive load glycogen in your head.

Andy: So true.

DC: You only have so much each day. Do not waste it worrying about$ 10, okay?

Andy: Because that that same person is at the bar on a Friday night buying six Bud Lights.

DC: Six Bud Lights, no problem. Ripping them, ripping them, no problem; buying one for the team. Don't waste your time and energy on$ 10. Please don't waste my time and energy asking me which version you should get.

Andy: All right. We got to wrap. crosstalk Send us out of here. DC newsletter.

DC: DG's new show, The Swipe File, The Marketing Swipe File, coming out this Friday. Subscribe now-

Andy: Don't worry. I'm going to promote the hell out of it. Don't worry.

DC: What we want to do is we want to have it have six- star ratings even before it launches. crosstalk So leave some six- star ratings on there, but you know what to do. This is the world's first and only six- star rated podcast in the entire universe, crosstalk universe, not only on the planet or the entire universe, there's only one six- star podcast. It is this. Please help us launch into a new atmosphere, a new level. Leave some six star ratings. iTunes is about to get hip to this, so let's lean into this.

Andy: See you.

DC: See you.


Data can only get you so far. On this episode of Seeking Wisdom, DC and DG are talking about the limitations of data, and why the most important thing you can do to scale your business is to get in the mud. Because getting in the mud means getting closer to your customers. It means getting your hands dirty and talking to them openly about their pain points. That’s where you’ll find all the answers you’re looking for.