#Exceptions 10: Zoom's Relentless Focus on Customer Experience

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This is a podcast episode titled, #Exceptions 10: Zoom's Relentless Focus on Customer Experience. The summary for this episode is: In the Season 1 finale of #Exceptions, host Jay Acunzo goes inside a seemingly ubiquitous brand in the business world today: Zoom. In talking to the company's CEO Eric Yuan and head of marketing Janine Pelosi, we learn why they refuse to settle for conventional wisdom and how they orient their team to push past "best practices" to build an exceptional customer experience. Plus, the heartwarming story of a second-grade teacher connecting his students to countries across the world through the Zoom platform. If you like it, be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and say hi on Twitter: @jayacunzo @seekingwisdomio @zoom_us.

Jay Acunzo: Video conference calls. What the aliens must think earthlings do to each other at work because we hate each other.

Speaker 2: Hey Paul, thanks for being here on time. Paul? Hey Paul, can you hear me? I can hear you. Can you hear me?

Tyler: Hey guys.

Speaker 2: Hey Tyler.

Tyler: Sorry I'm late. Having a hard time connecting.

Speaker 2: One second. Paul is having a sound issue.

Tyler: Try adjusting your output settings.

Paul: Can you hear me?

Tyler: It's the gear icon.

Speaker 2: Tyler, are you on hotel wifi?

Tyler: Yeah, why?

Paul: Great. Maybe we'll get started then.

Speaker 2: Oh, great.

Tyler: I think your mic is picking up your speakers.

Paul: My mic?

Speaker 2: Do you have headphones?

Paul: Do you want me to put them on?

Speaker 2: No, I want you to smell them. No, I want you to put them on. Hey Beth.

Beth: Hey everyone. Sorry. I'm late. I had to download a new version of the platform.

Speaker 2: You should plan extra time for the updates. There's pretty much one every time.

Jay Acunzo: Welcome to Exceptions, the show about why brand matters more than ever in B2B. I'm your host, Jay Acunzo, author of the book about challenging conventional thinking, Break the Wheel. And I've partnered with Drift to bring you this show because Drift is all about creating a better experience between B2B sales and marketing and their customers. In each episode I go inside one of the world's best B2B companies to understand how and why they're actually proactively building a brand. After so many years where just uttering that phrase was seemingly forbidden, these companies are challenging that conventional thinking. These are the exceptions. Today we go inside a company whose software you've probably used and one that I use in my own business, Zoom. Zoom is a video conferencing platform that in the eloquent words of Janine Pelosi, their head of marketing," doesn't suck." Oh, and the audio you heard at the top was from a video called A Video Conference Call in Real Life. It's from the corporate comedy duo Trip and Tyler. Definitely check it out on YouTube. It's hysterical and they do a lot of corporate parodies. Trip and Tyler on YouTube. Anyways, in 2011, Zoom CEO, Eric Yuan was Cisco's corporate VP of engineering for WebEx, another video conferencing platform that many of you might know. And customers kept telling him that they were frustrated with the product. And so he left along with 40 engineers who joined him at Zoom. The video conferencing space back then was already full of competitors, but Skype, Google Hangouts, WebEx, and others didn't scare off Eric. And that saturated market and that decidedly unsexy nature of their product hasn't stopped Zoom's customer base from growing to this very day. Between the years 2013 and 2018 they've grown their company 160 times. 160 times more customers between 2013 and 2018. Zoom is used at universities, software companies, startups, creative companies, agencies. The list goes on. Individuals. I use it for my company and I run it basically alone. Everybody in the corporate world that seems to have some sort of technology savvy seems to prefer Zoom. With over a thousand team members between its home of San Jose, California, and in Denver, Santa Barbara, and Kansas City, they ranked number three on the Forbes Cloud 100 List in 2018. They've raised over 145 million in capital and are valued at over a billion dollars. Yes, the proverbial unicorn in the tech world. Later on, you're going to hear from Janine, their head of marketing, about the unorthodox marketing tactics they've used to grow and about why they've become such a powerhouse in their space. But for now let's start where we always do here on Exceptions. But because this is the season one finale, we have to get a little bit more special I think. So we're going to start with the voice of a customer, but let's take a journey to a place you may not be expecting. A place you probably haven't visited in at least 15 years. Okay. Let's be honest, probably more like 20 or 25. A second grade classroom.

Michael Don Lee: I'm a second grade classroom teacher. And my name is Michael Don Lee. And I'm a teacher in Tabernacle, New Jersey.

Jay Acunzo: Michael's kids stay in his classroom for most of the day and they've developed a strong bond with each other as a result. So when Abby, one of the kids in the classroom, got sick and had to miss class for over a week, they were all upset, especially Abby. One of the most treasured times in the classroom was read aloud time, when Michael would read to the kids from a novel called The Borrowers. Being a caring and compassionate teacher, Michael searched for a way to include Abby in the read aloud from home. His solution? Having her join them via Zoom.

Michael Don Lee: For that 15 or 20 minutes of the day, she was back in our classroom even though she was not physically able to be. And she was able to keep her flow of knowledge when it came to this storyline that had become so important to her and to everybody else. So it was just a really great way to take something and use it to bridge that space between home and school.

Jay Acunzo: So when she first appears on that screen and the whole classroom sees her, is it a big moment? What did they physically do?

Michael Don Lee: Oh, yeah. All the kids were like," Yay!" They all started yelling out her name. And I had to remind her she's probably on medication and we want her to be calm. Imagine being in a hospital bed and having, 15 people come in at once and all call your name. So it was a great moment to be able to teach them about empathy once again." How would you feel if?" And so they immediately were able to check their behavior, but they were really wanting to let her know that they cared and they missed her and I think she benefited a lot. I think she needed to know... I think when you're young like that and you go through anything medical, you're always very fearful. And for her to have that," There's my friends and they're rooting for me," feeling, I think it helped. Her mother said that it really boosted her emotions at home. So I think it had an added bonus to her own recovery.

Jay Acunzo: That's awesome. And you've mentioned the word empathy a couple of times. Is this tool to you a tool that develops empathy in people? Because instead of a phone call I'm able to somehow see a person and react like I would offline? You've mentioned that so many times. I'm wondering if that's something you've thought about when trying to figure out... Zoom, it's a stodgy type of technology. It's a video conferencing software. It's not a consumer brand like Nike where you associated with something maybe emotional. But you've mentioned something emotional in relation to this tool. I'm just wondering if you could talk more about this idea of empathy in the classroom or empathy through technology.

Michael Don Lee: Well, I think that with everything that's been going on in our world and with students coming in and being more anxious or nervous in general, that we've really started to teach a lot more of the social, emotional learning and empathy, seeing something from someone else's point of view, is a really important skill that in many people we see it lacking and it leads to a lot of big, huge world issue problems.

Jay Acunzo: After meeting another teacher at a conference for the National Network of State Teachers of the year, Michael and his students did a month long program that involved 69 different countries. Really think about that. This second grade classroom was working with 69 different nations. Say what you will about our politics today, I feel pretty damn good with these kids as our future. And the whole time they were building towards that future, these second graders used Zoom to bring people from other countries into that classroom that they called home every day and to collaborate with them on solving international issues. Again, these are second graders. How many international problems did you tackle in second grade or even today?

Michael Don Lee: So my student population is all white children from the edge of rural/ suburban southern New Jersey. And so for them to be able to Zoom with somebody in Bangladesh and to see that their whole home is one room, it gives them the ability to really understand something in a much more... It's invoking another sense. It's not just hearing about it, but you're seeing it. And you're able to see it happen while it's happening. It just connects and it allows people a more broader way of bringing in a different diversity experience into the classroom, no matter what it might be. It might be living conditions. It might be skin color. It might be religion type. All those differences that are not currently in the room, but you want children to understand them and celebrate them, not just tolerate them. This is something that really allows you to have them see the humanity across all differences. It's just a great way for us to teach beyond the walls of the classroom. And it's just been amazing. The kids at the beginning of the year, before we did any of this, I asked them how many languages they thought were in the world. And they said two. Spanish and English. And now they know. My seven and eight year old kids know that there are 6, 900 live languages on the planet. And it's that kind of a learning experience that we've had this year because of the way that you can bring all these different countries and nationalities in.

Jay Acunzo: In both scenarios, with Abby and with the international calls, Michael used Zoom to foster empathy in his classroom, which is awesome. Don't you wish he was your second grade teacher? I do. And while this is a great story, it could have happened without Zoom. Let's be honest here. There are tons of video conferencing software platforms out there. So the question becomes why, when he could have picked a myriad of other solutions, did Michael choose Zoom? To understand that let's first go a little deeper to know what it really means to implement something in a second grade classroom.

Michael Don Lee: I often use the analogy that in a classroom sometimes you feel you're at the plate spinning booth. You've got to spin the plate, run around, and then spin the other one. By the time you get all the plates spinning the first one starts to wobble. You can have your hands full in a classroom and turning your back on the kids to do something can... It's a gamble. So the easier something is to click and how fast you can connect on something and... The problem or the glitches or those things that you don't have to encounter. It's less time you've got the kids looking at the back of your head. And so I think the ease and the simplicity of something is really important when you're trying to jump in and do something quick and you got to be flexible. And so those things mean a lot. The more complicated something is, the more log- ins I have to do, the more walls I have to get beyond, the more software I have to download, these are all steps that... If," Oh, and now I'm on this computer. I can't use it. I'm on my phone. I don't have it on." At Zoom, you just send the invite and it's good to go. And it definitely was always something that I find, like I said, it's really quite simple to use. And I've shared it with other people and it doesn't take them long to acquire a high level of functioning within it.

Jay Acunzo: Adults are willing to wait until the host enters the meeting. Everyone figures out their login passwords, gets their computer glitches worked out, and all of the other things that little students just don't have the patience for. Okay, I'm kidding obviously. We're terrible at that, but we're forced to figure out video conferencing platforms, but not second graders. If a teacher puts his back to the class for even a moment, even the most skilled teacher like Michael can take a calculated risk in doing so. While his back is turned, Jimmy might make a fart noise with his arm or disrupt the whole class and Samantha might start whispering to Ariana to stop paying attention. Okay. So yeah, it's pretty much exactly the same as any conference call in the corporate world. I don't know what I'm saying here. But like your team leader, Michael wants to make sure that these meetings run smoothly, have a purpose, and produce outcomes. With Zoom you can do that really quickly. You don't need an account, a password, download a bunch of software and continually update it. You just click a link and there you go. You're done. The other reason Michael probably used Zoom was because it's so embedded in his world. It was basically ubiquitous. It had this aura of ubiquity that made it the logical and first choice. And that is one of the powers of brand.

Michael Don Lee: Most of my interaction with the product has just been through the teacher leadership activities that I'm already involved in. Different organizations have accounts that are very user- friendly. I think that is the two words I would really come up with most, is that you can really easily jump in and out of it. It's a smooth product. There's the applicability, like I said, where I could just bring in somebody from their phone, their mom's phone or whatever device, but I have not really been very privy to any of their advertising or their marketing materials. It's all been inside through different organizations. Hope Street Group has used it, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year have used it for webinars. They have accounts. And so I've just become a user through that and then an independent user in the classroom, because again, it's just another option for reaching out and connecting. And each of these things have different selling points or different advantages and disadvantages, but overall Zoom is just so easy to use and I haven't had any disappointments on it really.

Jay Acunzo: So the two reasons that Michael uses Zoom. It's quick to use and top of mind. Those things aren't complex to get on board with. In fact, they're rather elementary. You see what I did there? Because we were talking to an elementary school? All right, come on. I've done 10 of these episodes, all right? Just give me that one. It's the season finale. Okay? Okay. So Zoom is so simple. It's simple to use, simple to set up, and simple to share. And that's why in the high stakes, high stress world of second grade, in a world where a quiet group of kids can turn into a rioting mass of hoodlums in a moment, Zoom is champion.

Michael Don Lee: I speak very highly of it and whenever I have a chance, I try to tell others," This is this great thing and you should be using it," because it's just a great way to connect your teaching with other teachers around the world or around the states. And the payoff for connecting beyond your classroom is huge.

Jay Acunzo: So it's easy to hear a story like Michael's and say," Well, that sounds great. It sounds like a case study for Zoom." And this is not an ad for Zoom, but when something just works, when it just clicks, being at a microphone I am and then telling the story of why Zoom is so great, it can be kind of a challenge. Really. I'm just sitting here like," Why Zoom? I don't know. It just works in a space where lots of people produce products that don't." But this brings us to our big idea of the day, reasoning from first principles. There are basically two ways to make decisions in our work. One way can lead to complexity and the other to something that just feels so simple and easy to use. We can reason and make decisions by analogy or reason by first principles. Now, arguably the best articulation of this difference comes from Elon Musk. Here's what he has said publicly about reasoning from first principles versus analogy." I think generally people's thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It's rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They'll say," We'll do that because it's always been done that way," or they'll not do it because," Well, nobody's ever done that so it must not be good." But that's just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up, from first principles is the phrase that's used in physics. You looked at a bunch of fundamentals and constructed your reasoning from that and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn't work and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past." For example, through his company SpaceX, Musk wants to colonize Mars. To colonize Mars he has to make space travel relatively affordable for at least some wealthy people. When he first started the company, rockets were impossibly expensive, so expensive to build that his goal of selling tickets to even the wealthiest individuals in the world seemed unattainable. But then Musk asked why. He asked why enough times to reach some very powerful first principles that his peers hadn't considered or at least taken seriously enough to inform their decisions. He realized rockets are impossibly expensive because so many parts and pieces are sold to his competitors from lots of different companies, all of which want to maximize their profits. And as a result, when he launched SpaceX, he decided to bring all the production in house, becoming a vertically integrated operation. He also realized that the price of a ticket on a spaceship could drop even further if a rocket could be reused, much like an airplane. We can afford to fly on airplanes because our tickets don't need to cover the cost of the entire plane. Musk recognized that the key was the ability to land the vehicle, fix it and refuel it, then launch it again, much a commercial jet. So rather than focus SpaceX solely on rockets, reaching orbit, Musk allocated significant resources to design and test vehicles that could successfully land on earth without breaking apart. Elon Musk does things that others see as crazy or innovative or creative, but I think he just sees the world for what it really is. Imagine we have two paths we can walk down to arrive at a conclusion at work, whether we're making decisions about something small and every day or something massive. The path on the right looks easier to walk down. All along that path, too, you have all these case studies and blog posts and smart- sounding tweets about the merits of that path. And at the very end you have all these experts, people you legitimately admire, and they're calling to you down that path to just walk that same way. That is the path of conventional wisdom. Then there's this other path, a way to your left. This is the path of first principles. We want to take that path. We don't want to be a commodity or look and act like everybody else. We aren't trying to be average. We're trying to be exceptional. We're trying to be the exceptions. So of course we want to go down that path of first principles. We can see how at the very end there are just a few people. It's way less crowded there. But the path to that destination is pretty cluttered with all this junk. Leaves and branches and trash bags, all of which got dumped on the path when all those experts created all these rules, or we as leaders built playbooks and set processes. That junk is called precedent. There might be some useful stuff in there, but man, if there isn't a ton of garbage. I just published my first book called Break the Wheel. And during the research, my eyes were opened to this idea. The book is about questioning best practices, honing your intuition, and doing your best work. And as you can imagine, first principle insights matter a ton when you break from conventional wisdom. It's how you walk down that path and cut through all that precedent with relative ease. To understand first principles better, I talked to a guy for my book who spent a ton of time with and written about Elon Musk and how he makes decisions. His name is Tim Urban. He created a blog called Wait But Why, which is an unbelievably smart and entertaining site. And when I asked him about his idea of first principles and how to reach them, here's what he said." Conventional wisdom is slow to move and there's significant lag time between when something becomes reality and when conventional wisdom is revised to reflect that reality. And by the time it does, reality has moved onto something else." See, best practices aren't leading indicators. They're lagging indicators. So if all we do is look for some case study, blueprint, or precedent to justify our work, if all we do is take the path of analogy, then our work will be lagging too. Said Tim Urban," I think we'd benefit from saying, why do I think this actually? Why is the world like this? And then you realize the world is this or society believes this because of something that happened in 1860 that doesn't apply anymore." If we were to play that why game more often, Tim believes, and I agree, that we'd realize that what we assume is the right decision for ourselves is actually the product of another person or trend influencing our behavior. So how do you break from that? You stop obsessing over everyone else's right answers and start asking yourself the right questions. That is how you can start reasoning from first principles. I talked to Zoom's head of marketing to learn how this applies their seemingly ubiquitous company.

Janine Pelosi: My name's Janine Pelosi and I lead marketing for Zoom. When I came in... It's been about three and a half years now. To start the marketing function here, I knew we had to do two things. It was build a preference for the brand. It's not just building the brand, but people have to like it. And then third- party validation. So while I, and most of us here at Zoom, all of us here at Zoom, think the product is phenomenal, easy to use, and reliable, everyone else is saying the same damn thing. So if we could get our customers, analysts, et cetera, to talk about that on our behalf, it is more effective.

Jay Acunzo: In other words...

Janine Pelosi: The expectations of the consumer are different, whether it's B2B... And frankly, I don't even care for the terms B2B and B2C. We don't use them internally. I just think that's the other part of being practical. You're selling to people whether they're a CIO or an IT manager or someone in marketing. They're people. So we lead with that. And that's why I go back to... I describe it as building a preference for the brand. People have to like what you're doing. If people like you they buy from you. If people like you they talk about you. If people like you they will refer you. People don't do business with people that they don't like.

Jay Acunzo: Think of this as the top soil where Zoom begins to dig for first principles. They know their goal for digging deeper is to first figure out how to make a brand people love and talk about. And they keep asking great questions, trying new things, and learning, digging ever deeper, because customer reactions tell them they're on the right path towards the first principle.

Janine Pelosi: Early on we knew, based on what I just said about building a preference for the brand, that we were going to be doing things differently. We are a little bit more old school. We're very focused. We want to bring our customers to the forefront. And I kept hearing when I came here," Zoom, it just doesn't suck." And I was like," Wow, it sounds the bar's pretty low here." And I spent quite a few years working as the market leader in the space. And I know when I came in I was like," Wow." Just the barriers, the friction, was gone. And so we ended up putting," Video conferencing that doesn't suck," on a bunch of billboards all over Silicon valley up and down the 101, you're going to hear it on the radio, the sides of buses, you name it. And it really resonated with people. And now fast forward a couple of years, we have the opposite. We have Meet Happy, which people just love. And that came out of a very interesting political climate. There was lots of just, hard, hard things going on in the world. And we wanted a happy message. So listening to the customer, bringing their actual pain point right to the forefront, and then bringing in a great, happy message at the end of the day, really resonated with folks.

Jay Acunzo: In order to understand what would make customers happy and then get them talking about Zoom, Janine learned as much as she could about Zoom's unique context. What were people saying about the company? What did prospects already try to do with other competing products? And in what ways did Zoom provide a better experience? The resulting marketing message wasn't a bunch of jargon like some Madison Av agency executive might concoct. It wasn't pithy vapor. Now, that makes sense. But billboards?

Janine Pelosi: Eric came in and he gave me someone's phone number. And he'd called an independent owner of a billboard... I think it was somewhere in Redwood City. And he said," I talked to this guy and we want to do this billboard. So we got to work on it." And I'm like," Okay. We can do that." And so we got that going. And then as we started growing and realizing that the top of funnel was going to be a big part of what we were doing, we knew... I'm a big believer in frequency. I don't think you can just do billboards or just do radio or just spend a lot in digital... To my earlier point of people not waking up in the morning so you got to hit them multiple times. And once again, that's nothing special. Any kind of X factor, it's just the basics when you think about frequency and advertising, but so many people forget that. So for us, it was like," Okay, well, we're always going to do a couple of billboards," if we take San Francisco Bay Area, for an example.

Jay Acunzo: From Janine's perspective, the billboards were a way to increase brand awareness through frequency, but that's not why Eric rented the space in the first place. His first billboard had an entirely different purpose. Here's what he said when I called him to ask.

Eric Yuan: To show our appreciation to our existing customers. So that's why we can justify that.

Jay Acunzo: Eric didn't choose billboards because of some heavily researched tactic argued by some data analyst team and a dark boardroom late at night. No. He spent money on billboards for the simple reason that he wanted to appreciate his current customers. And he wanted his customers to appreciate Zoom back.

Eric Yuan: There's a word of a inaudible that the best of the marketing strategy. Don't spend all marketing resources to pursue new customers. The more sustainable way to pursue the new costumer is make sure you're part of the world.

Janine Pelosi: I think it goes back to what I mentioned around our two key focus areas when marketing was even founded at Zoom around building the preference for the brand and then third- party validation. Fast forward three and a half years ago and those are still going to be two of our four key initiatives here. And so I see my role as a leader here is to be an advocate for the team, to make sure people have the appropriate swim lanes... I hate the term, but it fits here. I want to make sure that they're on the right path. But we hire subject matter experts who are great at what they do. And I'm not here to babysit anyone or to micromanage anything. I'm going to know what's going on with every single person in my team because we have such a flat organization at Zoom, but I'm relying on them to come to the table with the tactics and with the approach they want to take. And some things are going to work and some things aren't, but we try and stick with that motto of being directionally correct. Having data where it's available to help drive our decisions, but not letting the data necessarily hold us back.

Jay Acunzo: Janine wants her marketing team to make decisions that are directionally correct. As long as their marketing decisions are guided by those key initiatives, they have all kinds of leeway to play and experiment. In other words, they set up the box, but then Janine lets her team play within that box. They have constraints, they have a direction, they have guardrails and goalposts, but because they know them they can now innovate more freely. In fact, experimentation helps them get closer to first principles because they're trying different things to see what resonates most. Whether it's the billboards or something else, I'm curious how you as a leader expect to prove the value of things where there's not a tracking URL on it. I think we have a very blunt instrument form of tracking things oftentimes online, but that ability to do so sometimes shies us away from doing things where it's not so obvious. So how are you actually measuring the success of either the billboards or other" brand activities?"

Janine Pelosi: You have to be hearing it from people, right? I need to be getting emails. Eric needs to be getting emails. People need to be saying," Hey, I saw your billboard on the way to work. Congrats." But I think it's also going in, as I mentioned, starting in the Bay Area and looking at the KPIs that work for your business and saying," Are they affecting them?" And then being cognizant of when you start and stop things so that you can actually see the effect. So I don't think there's any rocket science to it. I think it's really just staying focused on what you can measure and then looking at that against what you have in the market.

Jay Acunzo: I asked Janine why she wanted to work at Zoom with Eric to begin with.

Janine Pelosi: I think it comes back to one simple thing, the reason he started the company. So Eric's background obviously was one of the founding engineers of WebEx. He jokes now his buggy code is still running from 20 years ago. And then fast forward, he was with Cisco running a thousand- person engineering team. And he kept saying," Things have to change. Things have to change. Our customers aren't happy." And he wasn't able to make that change there so he left and started Zoom. And so his reason for starting Zoom was to make customers happy, to give them a product that didn't bring pain to their lives, to take away the friction. And so if you think about that being... He was in a very comfortable position, a position where a lot of people would think that that's the top of someone's career. And he took a really risky move to leave and start Zoom. And so for me, it always comes back to that. Obviously knowing the product was really great, but I knew that he was going to do anything and everything to make this company successful.

Jay Acunzo: Eric's focused on making customers happy borders on obsession. And it's why Zoom is so easy to use. He and his team knew that they needed to make a video conferencing tool that worked well every time, both so people could invite their friends to join Zoom and so they could grow trust in the brand. So if the competition is all saying," Our product works great," and everyone's in the market being like,"Well, not really." And then Zoom is saying," Our product works great," what are you also tacking onto that to be like," And also we do this better than anybody?"

Janine Pelosi: I think we actually just deliver on it and then we leave it to our customers and other folks to praise on our behalf. You're not going to see us out there, chest pounding.

Jay Acunzo: "Number one in the market for XYZ category."

Janine Pelosi: We're just not going to... It's just not who we are. It's not a part of our makeup to your earlier question. It's not the way I'd describe ourselves. So I think leaning on other folks to help spread that message and then being consistent, right? Everyone loves you until they don't, until you don't work for that one meeting or until you start to consistently take minutes and minutes and minutes to have every single meeting start. And then there's this phrase of the meeting tax the people use to describe the first five to seven meetings with competitive products that they lose because it just doesn't work. So I think we just need to stay... We stay consistent to our message and we hold true to it.

Jay Acunzo: So say you guys all go your separate ways and Zoom is a wonderful success. It's all high fives and handshakes and hugs. And you have a reunion of the team you're working with right now. What's the project you're looking back on over drinks and you're like," Oh man, remember that?"

Janine Pelosi: Oh, this is a fun one. I think the video is down now. So we did a video with Trip and Tyler that was Put Your Dongle Away.

Speaker 3: So I think you can just use one of these.

Speaker 12: Whoa. You got a huge dongle.

Speaker 3: Thanks. It gets the job done I guess.

Speaker 13: I've seen bigger.

Speaker 12: I have a really small one.

Speaker 3: Well, mine's normal size, but it doesn't work like it used to.

Speaker 14: Hey guys. What is going on in there?

Janine Pelosi: I guess the whole concept was our Zoom rooms. And the fact that you didn't need a dongle, you could do sharing. You just go to share. zoom. us and now we have it where it's even automatic. You just walk into the room and you can share to whatever screen. So the concept was you didn't need a dongle.

Speaker 13: Trip, I think yours is too wide.

Speaker 12: I've got two.

Speaker 3: Can you use them at the same time?

Speaker 12: Never tried it.

Speaker 14: What are you guys doing?

Speaker 12: What?

Speaker 14: It just sounds like you're comparing dongles.

Speaker 12: That sounds dirty.

Speaker 14: You know you don't need those, right? You can connect to the screen wirelessly. It's a Zoom room.

Janine Pelosi: So we ended up somehow talking San Jose Airport into putting a," Welcome to San Jose, put your dongle away," on their main billboard. It didn't stay up too long. There were some people that didn't like that. And that's a campaign that came and went, but it was so fun. And we don't use any agencies here, whether it's media or creative. I think that's really interesting about us too. We have these... One of them's now in my office. These blue Ikea couches from a couple of years ago that we just sit on and we all get in a room and we ideate and have fun. And that was one of the ideas that came out of it.

Jay Acunzo: Exceptional brands Zoom use existing customers to create more. Customer experience is the new demand gen and customer experience is the longer, newer age version of the word brand. Everybody has an experience of you. Every touch point, every tweet, every purchase, every moment. The difference is whether you proactively cultivate those experiences to create a great brand. Just think about what you see happening around B2B marketing or even experience or do personally as a marketer yourself. We panic read articles, panic download podcasts, panic purchase books, panic attend events, panic call for all hands meetings or coffees with people we admire, all because we're worried there's some big, complex, magical system that someone else we admire has mastered that we need to know too. They must know something else that makes them so great and we're just so close to finding that information. But really the people we admire, the exceptions, they keep it simple. They start by knowing their customers. They put them at the center of every decision. It's not giant projects or crazy stunts or huge budgets that create these great companies. It's the simple stuff. First principles and people first. We've come a long way since our first episode, we've heard from creative powerhouses like Envision and Wistia, refreshing perspectives on stale industries like Gusto and Help Scout. We searched for some sober truth with ProfitWell. We moved from traffic to audience to true community with Buffer. And we went outside our echo chamber to learn about great brands with inaudible Labs and First Round Capital. Last week with Lessonly, we explored the silly like painting llamas gold and the serious like psychological safety. Over 10 stories, 10 brands, one thing has become abundantly clear. These companies are exceptional for one reason. In a world of copycats and commodity marketing, they find and follow what makes them an exception. In the end that means their people, their customers, and their teams. That's what brand is. It's how others feel about your team. We use words like work and brand and experiences, but it's all just the response others have to what your people do. We all want to build great companies and because of the people you work with and the people you serve... And make no mistake, the person you are, your brand is an exception in some way. The only question is, are you willing to execute on that? Remember, exceptional work isn't created by the answers others give us, but by the questions we ask ourselves. So ask yourself, what makes you the exception? Season one of Exceptions is in the books my friend. 10 episodes in, I'm having so much fun making this show. I hope you're having fun listening to it. If you haven't heard all 10 episodes, go to your podcast player of choice and check out the Seeking Wisdom podcast feed. That's the feed run by Drift, my partner in this endeavor, and they've allowed me to be creative and to find first principles and talk to amazing companies in season one. Now, we are planning season two. It's on the way early in 2019, that much I can promise you. It is officially happening, people. And it's thanks to the support of listeners like you. So here's two ways you can support me and support this show and make sure we keep going. Number one is give me a shout on Twitter or over email. I'm happy to hear from you. I'd love your feedback on this show. I'm @ jayacunzo on Twitter, jay @ unthinkablemedia. com over email. Unthinkable Media is the company that's creating this show right now. That's the first thing you can do. The second is Drift always wants me to ask you to give us six stars, but I have a compromise for you. If you can promise me that you'll listen to season two next year, you can get away with giving us just five stars, just this once. Just this one time, give us five stars in whatever app you use and we'll float the sixth over to 2019. How about that? Just a little wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Don't tell the folks over at Drift. They really want six stars. Again, still haven't figured out how that's physically possible in any app, but that is a thing they say publicly. So good on that. They've figured it out. I think they have the technology savvy that I lack, quite frankly. But that's okay because I'm all about customer experiences and brand. Right? All right. At the risk of going on too long, I just don't want to give up this show right now. I don't want to say goodbye between seasons, but you've been such an awesome supporter of the show. I can't thank you enough for listening. I'm Jay Acunzo, author of the book Break the Wheel, and I'll talk to you on season two of Exceptions. See ya.


In the Season 1 finale of #Exceptions, host Jay Acunzo goes inside a seemingly ubiquitous brand in the business world today: Zoom. In talking to the company's CEO Eric Yuan and head of marketing Janine Pelosi, we learn why they refuse to settle for conventional wisdom and how they orient their team to push past "best practices" to build an exceptional customer experience. Plus, the heartwarming story of a second-grade teacher connecting his students to countries across the world through the Zoom platform. If you like it, be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and say hi on Twitter: @jayacunzo @seekingwisdomio @zoom_us.