The Story Behind How DG Got His Job In Marketing At Drift

When we were doing Seeking Wisdom Live at WeWork, a quick story came up.

DC went back to when I first got my job at Drift — from the interview process to getting an offer — and started to a tell a story about hiring, what to look for in people that you can’t find on a resume or a LinkedIn profile.

So we sat down and told the whole story, finally, on this episode of Seeking Wisdom.

This one is all about seizing the the opportunity and finding your superpower.

How DG Got His Job At Drift | Seeking Wisdom Podcast from Drift on Vimeo.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:53 – Dave’s side project Tech in Boston

2:52 – The initial interview and getting an offer

05:13 – Dave’s commitment to learning and building his career

07:23 – Focusing and seizing on opportunity

10:36 – Superpowers as two skills coming together

12:11 – David’s process of finding his superpower

15:00 – Hypergrowth Conference, September 25, 2017

3 Key Points:

  1. Do you want to earn or do you want to learn? Make a conscious choice.
  2. Opportunities are rare. Have a sense of urgency and seize them when they come.
  3. Figure out your skills that combine and intersect – this is your superpower.

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Episode Transcript

Dave: Today on Seeking Wisdom, we’re going to talk about How I, DG, got my job at Drift.

David: Yup, but it’s not a self-serving story about the young boy named Dave.

Dave: No, it’s actually not about me at all. There’s a bigger story in there about wanting to get something and also looking for something different and higher between skills…

David: Skills and will.

Dave: Something that we talk about that doesn’t show up in the job description all the time.

David: Totally. This is a story about getting after it, it doesn’t have to be getting after a job but that’s the parable that we’re going to use to teach you about how you get after it.

Dave: This whole thing started—at the time, I had a little side project, a little side piece called Tech in Boston where I went and interviewed founders.

David: Lea’s listening man, there’s no side piece.

Dave: My bad. I used to sell some sponsorships, got her some nice stuff. I used to go and interview founders and CEOs. I got connected with you, did the interview with you at the time. I did a bunch of research, you read your blog, read a bunch of the bombs that you dropped back in the day, kept my notes. We did an interview, I thought it was awesome. It was one of the more popular episodes. The next day, I was like you know what, this guy’s legit. The next day, I sent a note to Keith who was the recruiter at the time, and still is now at Drift. I said, “Hey, it looks like you guys are looking to make one of your first marketing hires. Here’s my stuff.” You guys had me come in a couple of days later.

David: What happened was Keith asked me, “Do you know Dave Gerhardt?” I said, “Yeah, he was here two days ago.” He said, “Oh, he just sent me a note.” I was like, “Why didn’t he send me a note? That’s weird. Let’s have him in.” Anyway, he came in, he met with myself and Elias, he knows Elias very well now, maybe too well.

Dave: I know him very well now, I know you, I didn’t know either of you at the time. I was like I have no idea what to expect. I had this great conversation with you, it was obvious that—it was just like we read a bunch of the same books, interested in the same stuff in marketing.

David: Bro, you didn’t read books back then.

Dave: No, I didn’t read books. Maybe I read one book. That was right around the time that I started to get into reading. Maybe that summer I read I don’t know, whatever, The Hard Thing Of A Hard Thing.

David: Dr. Seuss?

Dave: Yes, I read Dr. Seuss. I started to practice. I remember, I go into the room to meet with Elias. You remember when he does this thing when everybody’s in a meeting, he plays with the cord on the curtains?

David: Oh yeah, annoying.

Dave: I remember. He’s in the window and he’s playing with this thing. The door shut, he’s like, “Tell me why you’re better at marketing than me.”

David: Ooh, he said that?

Dave: Right off the bat.

David: If you don’t know Elias, that’s the intro.

Dave: No shit. After the chit chat died down, the door shut, he just went right to business. Tell me why. The reason that he came with that approach is because it was such an early stage at Drift that you didn’t need to hire a marketer at that point so this had to be a value add and have a very clear role, not somebody that’s going to come in and disrupt the company.

David: By the way, Elias doesn’t know marketing. Little did you know, he does zero marketing.

Dave: Oh yeah, no, he’s a growth guy. He doesn’t know anything about marketing. Sorry, dude. He said that, that put me on my heels, I had to explain. He’s telling me he spent time with Brian Belford, he knows this and that, and what do I know, blah blah blah. I started to tell him a couple of things and he’s like okay. Long story short, we hit it off, I thought.

Keith gives me a call and he says, “Hey, we’re really excited, we want to make an offer.” You text me, “We’re really excited, we want to make an offer.” I’m like okay, make the offer then, where are we at. He’s like here’s what we want you to do. You’re going to get married, I was getting married…

David: He’s about to go on his honeymoon.

Dave: We got married September 27th, honeymoon was the second week of October, so I wouldn’t have been able to start until mid-October. This was right around Labor day. I’m grey with dates. He said you know what, we want you to go get married, take your honeymoon, come back in three weeks and give us a call and we’ll talk then. I said no fucking way, there’s no way.

David: Let this guy go on his honeymoon, we’ll talk when he gets back, there’s no rush. Why do we need to do this now? We’ll be here when he gets back, let him come back with a clear mind. Then, we can talk. But DG said no.

Dave: No way.

David: First time in history.

Dave: That you’ve said no?

David: No, that someone has said no in the way that you did.

Dave: Oh, really? That’s the first time?

David: First time. How many people have fought back and said no, I want to work there, but not in the way that DG did.

Dave: That was actually out of character for me. I’m not aggressive but I commit to something. If that’s what I want to do, I do it. I have a high sense of urgency. I was 28 at the time, it was two years ago, I’m 30 now. I remember thinking to myself when I started to think about what I wanted to do after where I was at, the number one priority decision I had to make was do you want to earn or do you want to learn? The number one thing I wanted to do was learn. I wanted to set myself up for the rest of my career by spending the next four, five years really owning something and learning something. I knew that when I met you guys, because of the way that you built companies and the culture that you had, I knew that this would be the opportunity.

I knew that there’s no way you guys had an amazing network, you know a ton of people, you have great investors, they knew you were looking for a marketing hire, I just knew that there was no way that if I went away for three weeks that you weren’t going to get introduced to somebody else.

David: What did you do?

Dave: I said, “Keith, totally understand, but I don’t think that’s the right move. Can I come back in? I want to talk to you guys.” You were out at the time, but Elias was there. He said sure, come on over. I literally went back over the next morning.

David: Walked across the street.

Dave: Walked right across the street the next morning, it was like 10:00 and he’s like, “What’s up?” I was like I can’t go on my honeymoon unless I have an offer. Either you need to tell me no right now, or I need to have an offer.

David: I remember him texting me or calling me saying something that he had this meeting with you. I was like what? Just tell him that we’ll get to him after his honeymoon.

Dave: What is your big meta lesson here?

David: But then you came back. I think I texted you at that point and then you came back and you came across the street again.

Dave: I came across the street again because then to meet with you, because you were back and you said okay, you said let’s talk. What’s it going to take? I told you and I said here’s what it is. I said if you make this offer right now, I’m going to sign it tonight. I did.

David: A whole bunch of lessons in there, it’s amazing. One is just that DG was laser focused on this next opportunity. When he saw it, he jumped on it. He went all in, he would not take no for an answer. He had the right sense of urgency, even though we may not have been thinking the same way at the time, and we weren’t, what he was guessing would happen was probably correct, that we would’ve met a bunch of other people and who knows, and three weeks is an eternity in our stage. He did the right thing.

There’s this story, my uncle Charlie, tells that one of the biggest lessons that one of his uncles told him was that, “Hey Charlie, in your life, there will not be many opportunities. Opportunities are rare. They almost never happen, a really good opportunity. The day that one of those opportunities comes, and there won’t be many of them, you need to seize it with all of your energy and double down, triple down on that opportunity.”

Dave: I got chills right now.

David: That’s what Dave did because he saw an opportunity.

Dave: But that’s how you feel about Drift.

David: Absolutely, that’s why I’m here.

Dave: That’s why you’re [00:09:32] about the sense of urgency that we have. Three weeks in Drift is an eternity.

David: When you see that opportunity and you have enough experience, that’s what his uncle was old enough to tell him. You’re not actually going to see many in your life.

Dave: That’s why I think it drives both of us crazy when we know. You talk to a million people about companies and whatever, or people want my opinion on their little things or the side projects or marketing ideas. 99% of people just don’t ever get started. If you do really feel that way about something, and you haven’t taken a step to actually go and make it happen, then what are we talking about?

David: Totally. If you don’t feel that way, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up because just like Charlie’s uncle was telling him, it’s actually rare that you see an opportunity, not going to see too many in your life, you’re going to see a handful of them. On those, you want to seize them hard and ride them out and double down and triple invest in those things. For everything else, if they don’t meet that sense of urgency, and you know. There’s no test for this, but you’ll know this feels like this is the opportunity, then jump in head first.

Dave: I love it. That’s the big lesson, and that can be applied to anything. The thing I wanted to ask you about, and this is related to hiring people all the time, is you guys took a chance and hired me even though I had never owned a marketing team before, never built out anything. I had a side project that I had grown, had an email list, thousands of people on a blog and a podcast. But traditionally, if you looked at my stuff on paper, you’d be like I don’t know if this is the person to grow a company’s marketing strategy from the beginning.

David: Totally.

Dave: I think a lot of people might have said we need to look at somebody who has been a product marketer at Sales Force, spent a year at Google, and then did this other thing.

David: But you had these qualities that I saw that were unusual. They’re not unusual for you, that’s who you are. But from as an outsider, I said wow, look at someone who can talk the way that you could talk which is unusual in marketing. You were almost this blend of sales and marketing, you could sell yourself, you were aggressive just enough, not too aggressive, the perfect amount of aggressive. And, you had marketing background. That intersection is the rare thing.

That’s where you want to look in superpowers is it’s two things coming together. You had that sales ability and that ability to talk to people but yet you had these marketing skills. I’ve seen enough marketing people, gazillion, to know that’s a rare intersection of things. For a company that’s starting up and that needs to do a lot of customer market development, and we’re going to be talking to people, it’s a blurry line between selling and marketing all these things. Maybe we can use this person’s superpower, it will be perfect for this space.

Dave: I love that. We talked about this on the podcast that we did with Pat Grady about the importance. They have different philosophies for venture investing. But from interviewing, the big lesson I have learned from you guys is the ability to pattern match. Learning is such an important thing because it even spans into talking to people and hiring. The only way you’re going to get good is if you’ve seen hundreds of those people, reps and sets, that you can say okay, I know what the mix of things is gonna be.

David: Totally. It takes time to figure out what your super powered at, what are those two things that combine together to make this unique intersection. Mine took a long time to figure out but you know I’m good at things that lend towards marketing, but also good at things that lend towards product and engineering. That intersection is weird and rare, usually it’s one of the other and those things never meet. That’s where I continue to focus on reinventing marketing and sales using conversations at Drift.

Dave: I love it. You might say the leading conversational sales and marketing platform.

David: That’s what I would say.

Dave: I would say that. At what point in your career did you find that?

David: It took a while. It took a couple of companies to say why do I keep focusing in on this area? I didn’t have an answer to it. Now, I can look back and say oh, it’s because I have this intersection which I saw early in my career, like when the marketing and sales people would tell me that I should manage the engineering team and it was because I could communicate to them and I could understand and had empathy for their needs. But yet, I was an engineer. They were telling me back then, but I couldn’t hear them. It took me doing a couple of companies in this area to say I keep doing this thing, it’s because of that thing that people saw early on.

Dave: Yeah, and then you also love marketing. You know that. You have that intersection.

David: Which is a weird one. You have this intersection of being able to talk to people and marketing, which is weird.

Dave: I even made a great spreadsheet today, I don’t know if you saw it. I looked up a bunch of stuff, nice little chart.

David: You did it?

Dave: I did that. I talked to Will, I said let me know if you guys have any openings in BizOps, I know a guy.

David: You’re like I made one chart today.

Dave: That’s two lessons. Third lesson that your boy DG, we started to do this first episode and DC saw the blinking light. For as much as we talk about this on the podcast, I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight. I didn’t hit record, unbelievable. Everyone out there listening right now is dying laughing because they know how much we talk about this.

David: We talk about this every episode. DG always puns me because I ask him if we hit record, if we have an SD card in the thing. And today, second time.

Dave: I’m not so mad about having to re-record this because this one was actually great. I’m mad because just when I thought it was over, I just got six more months of having you look over, every time.

David: Luckily, DHD was in the room, she was my witness. She saw what happened. She was blown away and sad for DG.

Dave: We’re one month out from Hypergrowth.

David: Get your tickets. Promo code is SeekingWisdom. Dave upped the goals.

Dave: I upped the goals this week.

David: I didn’t even up them.

Dave: It was a self-selected—you did not. You didn’t even say we should up them, it was self-selected and I love what you said. What do we do? We added most companies’ first conference onto our existing goal.

David: A-huh, because we’re launching, this is the biggest debut. I’m going on the record, biggest debut of a marketing and sales conference in the world.

Dave: In the world.

David: You want to be here at this historic event. We were shooting for 1,000 people but Dave upped the goals and now he’s not going to tell us how much he upped the goals by, but it’s significant. I would say you could probably fit two other conferences in the amount that he just upped right here.

Dave: For all you math people out there, you could run this through a statistically significant calculator, this would be a statistically significant change to the forecast.

David: Let’s do it. He’s getting fancy now because he uses spreadsheets.

Dave: Go to Get your ticket. SeekingWisdom, use the promo code, it’s $99. There really isn’t a better way that you can invest, and you’re all working at companies anyway, they’re going to expense your $99 ticket anyway. Come over.

David: That’s not even five trips to Starbucks, $99.

Dave: What kind of Starbucks do you get?

David: Flat whites, almond milk.

Dave: That is actually true.

David: $5.55 per drink. Go buy that ticket. When you click that ticket, you start a new tab, go to Apple podcast, open that up, leave six stars, shout at DHD, DHD is going back to school. We’re sad, we’ll miss the crying in here.

Dave: Lesson for all you young up and comers out there, you know what Daniel did? She wrote the entire playbook for how to record videos, produce Seeking Wisdom. It’s all out there on our Wiki. Whoever else has to pick it up after her, God bless them, knows exactly what to do.

You know who doesn’t own something? You know what wouldn’t happen if you were doing this podcast, DHD? That blinking light would never have happened.

David: That would’ve been on the checklist.

Dave: Ever.

David: Shout at DHD in the comments, six stars only, see you at Hypergrowth, the debut of the largest ever sales and marketing conference. Let’s go.

Dave: Peace.