The Lighthouse Series features a weekly Q&A where we ask five simple questions to one of our CEOs. These questions are matters of the heart, mind, and business. We hope that this is helpful to fellow CEOs as they muddle and model their way through the fog, winds, and frightful waves currently underway.
THIS WEEK'S CEO: DEV GANESAN
Dev Ganesan is the CEO of PathFactory. Ganesan is the former CEO of ItemMaster, a product content management company. Prior to ItemMaster, he led Fishbowl, Inc., a leading restaurant marketing and analytics company, and Aptara, a digital content and publishing leader. Ganesan has in-depth experience in building and scaling companies in the digital, mobile, content, and data analytics industries.
1. How are you feeling at the moment?
There is no doubt that we are living in a volatile environment right now. For individuals, families, companies, the macro economy, and the world. I am focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees and our business. We are looking ahead and forward to solve the challenges that have been presented to us. Time and speed (Intelligent Speed) of decisions are critical right now.
2. How do you prepare your week when it is hard to predict even what the next day will bring?
You need to go back to the basics. Focus on what at the core made your company successful and ensure every single employee is focused on doing their job, hour by hour, day by day. Rally your team around the challenge. Be ruthlessly focused on delivering value every day. Your employees need to be customer-centric even more during challenging times.
If there is anything to be learned from historical meltdowns, it is that there are big rewards for companies that can weather and even thrive in uncertain times, like the one we are experiencing now. Some will simply do better than their competitors because they can make the right choices faster. Others will succeed because they innovate and their value prop has now moved front and center (as we will likely see with companies supporting remote working / video conferencing / home shopping, etc.).
3. Do you have a priority checklist? If so, can you share a couple of things on it?
CASH IS KING. EVERY EXPENSE IS BEING EVALUATED.
Optimize everything in sales and marketing, product marketing, and general and admin. Cut the fat out of your organization. Truly evaluate if you need that expense in the next 9-12 months if sales are going to be slowed.
- It's actually the right time to invest in data science and engineering. Stay focused on being a product-first organization.
- Everyone needs to be externally focused. Customers and prospects need you now. In fact, I am talking to clients more than ever before.
- Sharpen your GTM message. “Learn how PathFactory can help in increasing pipeline and closing deals.”
- Buying decisions may come more slowly in times like these, but they still happen. Companies that can effectively communicate clear, differential value will grow or at least retain their existing contracts. Those that can’t will get sidelined and fall behind. In this new reality, winning requires educating your audience on your value prop in a micro-personalized and hyper-relevant way.
4. Who do you seek out for advice on your business (excluding investors)?
Other CEOs who have gone through similar situations. It’s times like this that you need to lean hard on your network. People want to help.
5. How are you keeping yourself sustained and finding moments of relaxation?
I have always believed in having a culture of Winning. Success breeds success. Our daily pursuit is that - to win. Deals are still there to be closed and celebrated. Hard work and winning is enjoyment. We celebrate our wins BIG TIME.
More specific to perhaps working from home these days, I stick to my routine, including getting outside and exercising. We have told our employees to do the same. We have an increasing number of virtual meetings, touch-points, and events. We are doing more family-focused virtual events in the evening actually. Keeping spirits, energy and passion high are critical during challenging times.