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Pitfalls of Fast Funding

Kerry Guard • Wednesday, May 25, 2022 • 52 minutes to listen

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Jim Mitchell

Jim Mitchell has 16 years of marketing experience across multiple industries from Government to CPG to Cybersecurity, including over a decade of agency work. Working with organizations from start-ups to billions in global revenue has taught him a thing or two about business structure and function within a career that spans the analog to the digital giving him the ability to reach back in history to drive marketing into the now and beyond.



Hello, I’m Kerry Guard and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.

Welcome to the final episode of season 11. How cool was my episode Naz EKim! If you haven't listened to it, be sure to skip back and hang out with Naz Ekim as we dig into PR and how to make it successful for you and your brand. It's just she's just got a wealth of experience from what she's got going on. She's cool.

In this final episode, I chat with Jim Mitchell. My conversation with Jim is an eye-opener. Jim has been at quite a few security startups over the last five to 10 years, and he has seen some things, especially as it pertains to rapid growth and the pitfalls were like craters, as he describes what can happen if a company grows too quickly. We talked about rapid growth, but then there's rapid growth. Jim talks about the differences between what it means to grow as a startup and to explode essentially. It's a great conversation.

Jim is a complete marketing professional with years of experience in getting the job done: content management, brand management, end-to-end project management, and the ability to communicate across departments. He leads by doing, not by telling. He can create and manage striking campaigns to make your company stand out lead team so the objectives are met on time and under budget, business development and sales, content development, social media management, and product company positioning, and he also tells great dad jokes. I couldn't resist leaving out that last line. It gives you an idea of Jim's personality, that striking balance of taking his job in the industry very seriously.

I learned a lot from Jim. I'm grateful for this conversation because things are exploding in terms of how companies are growing, especially in security. And this is great visibility into what's happening. When that happens, it's really helpful.

Here's my conversation with Jim.


Kerry Guard: Hi, Jim. Thanks for joining me on Tea Time and Tech Marketing Leaders.

Jim Mitchell: Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here, virtually.

Kerry Guard: Virtually across the world, and it’s a good time. Before we kick off into our conversation, which I'm excited about, tell us your story, Jim. What do you do? And how did you get there?

Jim Mitchell: Currently, I am working on a contract. I've been in marketing in some form or fashion for 15 years now. I've worked in agency background and local television marketing. The first job I had out of college was not only producing on-air ads, but I was also helping to sell ad time. I talked to client-facing people, and then I've done straight direct to consumer working on the retail side of things. And as soon as digital ads and things were coming on board at that point. I was working with a company that knew how to do social media. There were no business managers at the time, and it was just starting to happen. It was more like I'm just making you an account so you can talk to people as a part of a company and as a person on certain platforms. LinkedIn didn't exist, and there was no ads manager or business manager. I worked in government contracting, so that's a specific niche type of population that you're marketing because you're trying to grow those contracts to different work sites. I was producing communications pieces, training pieces, depending on what the project was because it's the government then they'll ring everything they can out of you and not want to pay for it, but somehow, someone was making money. Recently, full timewise before going 1099, I was working in cybersecurity as a global marketing operations manager, helping build out strategy for marketing technology, distribute content, and working on the paid ads side, which encompasses a lot of other things that I've done that have been contract or short term W-2 type of work. Working in marketing for the last 15 years, you're chasing down work wherever you can and picked up a lot of skills along the way, including educational backgrounds and media communications. I'm working on 1099, and currently, in the health and wellness arena, they have a tech piece, which I'm helping them bring onboard and market data and their traditional business, which was wholesaling and working directly with healthcare practitioners.

Kerry Guard: You've run the gamut, which is exciting because it will lend itself perfectly to our conversation today. Before we get there, you're in a unique spot in being 1099 and this day and all the things happening in the world; what's one challenge you're currently facing in your unique situation?

Jim Mitchell: People are trying to do things they don't fully understand. You have C-level people asking questions because they've heard buzzwords or read articles that matriculate down into the people who are doing the tactical work. So having people know too much is a big challenge, and communicating those pieces to key stakeholders is probably the biggest challenge. You come into an established organization, and they think they have things running, but they want you to work on this one piece, and this is what we're trying to understand. Much of it is data, and no one knows what data means. I posted something earlier on LinkedIn. Many companies will say they're data-driven, and what they won't say is where they drive that data. Most of the time, it's into a tree.

It gets some laughs and some reactions. But that was one of those things like, “We need data” You can have all the data in the world, but what are you doing with it? And are you collecting the right data? I realized that no one is collecting the right data for their purposes or knows how to get the attribution from the different channels that data might be coming from.

Kerry Guard: They look at all the data and then the story they want to tell. They don't care for the story. They just want to continuously tell the same data rather than figure out what the data is saying and what story you should tell and not worry about. You don't need all of the numbers. You just need the set that's helping you figure out where you need to go next.

Jim Mitchell: Everyone has this obsession with email metrics. Are you even getting any business off of email? That is the biggest thing we need to figure out our email data. Why is your open rate 0.9%?

Kerry Guard: It’s a challenge. We're all facing the MarTech world now, especially where you get endless data. I don't know if they don't want to know or care to figure it out. We're sort of scratching our heads with this question right now like, are we talking about the dark funnel? I think you can measure those things, but do you need to measure those things? Which I think is what you're asking, Jim. Because you can measure it doesn't mean you need to measure it? Is that going to help you get where you need to get to at the end of the day?

Jim Mitchell: Everyone wants the funnel and the demand gen and all this stuff. They don't understand what demand needs to be generated that data tells them, whether it's an end-user side, software product, B2B, and what decision-making level you're going after. No one can figure that out, and you got to look at all three, and if no one's no one's using data properly, and they want more, I don't know how much more I can get. There's a new software tool, and it's going to do it every week because I get the sales emails trying to like, “Hey, would you like to do a demo of this tool?” And every time I go there, if the content is 100% gated, I don't want to deal with you.

Kerry Guard: That's another discussion, Jim, that we don't have time for, or maybe it'll work its way into our actual conversation. But goodness, gated content. What is this? 2023?

Jim Mitchell: That would be the long answer to your question, like, what are you seeing as a challenge working externally for an organization?

Kerry Guard: I get that. I'm sure you're not the only one feeling that pressure. In terms of our conversation today, we had a really interesting conversation. I'm going to say conversation one more time because I'm saying that a lot. We talked about your journey, essentially, and one of the different challenges you were facing at the time was having worked in multiple tech companies and then scaling fully fast. I feel like that's the golden ticket, and whatever ways after, but in your experience, that's not necessarily the best opportunity. Talk me through, Jim. What's your experience in working with startups and fast-growing startups?

Jim Mitchell: When you're in a startup environment, funding is always good, no matter what. Too much funding can cause a lot of unneeded attitude changes. You can lose your focus on the actual day-to-day mission. You can lose the focus on the long-term vision of the company. I've been in startup environments where big money was 500 million and a half for them, so that's a lot of money in terms of normal human money. But in terms of business, it's not a ton of money. I've been in environments where half-billion or 600 million, those large sums have been thrown out. And now in some hot sectors like cybersecurity, those larger numbers are being thrown around like crazy at these companies. When you get that amount of money, and it's coming at people fast, they don't always have time to plan, which is a huge issue. You’d have people out there trying to raise the money or coming to you to like, “Hey, we want to put money into this.” And often, when the people are coming to you to give you the money, there's no plan in place. I've seen where the money will come to you, and there is zero plan. We're going to get vetted by Lloyds of London, or whoever's doing those types of due diligence for the investors for that company. And what happens with that is there's ultimately going to be head-butting in terms of the C-suite. Organizational changes will inevitably happen to massive headcount increases or acquisitions, which creates redundancy in positions. You have a culture issue that happens if there's redundancy in my position at this level. Am I going to be the one that gets, like, “Wow, we did the analysis, and your job no longer is needed.”? Or you're going to be on the other side, where it's like, biting the other person. The other part of it is when you grow rapidly over a short period. You've probably already been planning some growth, so you're hiring people in positions I've been in. What happened was that I came on board, and this money came into play. You've been promised all these things that you're going to grow this company. They sell you this great mission, and suddenly, there are organizational changes, and people start leaving because they have inside information that's not getting down to certain levels. They're suddenly like, “Well, I will start looking other places because I know when this money comes in.” My position will be eliminated because of how typically goes in any type of merger, acquisition, or investment.

Kerry Guard: Let me get this straight. You're saying that when more money comes in, jobs are eliminated.

Jim Mitchell: No. When that money comes, people want to jockey for a position. If they can't get the position they think they deserve, they will start looking into other companies. When some of the money comes in a lot of times, it is used for the acquisition of other companies. And then there's that crossover of, “Well, we don't need all these people in XYZ department because this person can do that job.” Then, you start to have nervous. If you look financial industry in the mid-90s, banks, and stuff were merging and coming together as one company. Those layoffs were those mergers where there was redundancy created because you had this department do the same job. And that happens a lot of times. When those acquisitions happen, and they try, and both companies will sell their employees, your jobs are fine. It's not going to change anything. But then, suddenly, that proverbial heat that your executive team then gets for getting that money or bringing a company public or something that starts to either put pressure on them to do more of the company or put pressure on them to look other places.

Kerry Guard: I got it.

Jim Mitchell: All these things can happen when a company grows, and money comes in. It's happening, and you'll see consolidation in several industries, cybersecurity being one and FinTech being another. It's always happening with healthcare.

Kerry Guard: You're saying that when companies are given a round of 500 million-plus dollars, chances are because I was like, Where does that what to do with all that money, like, that's not small potatoes. So it sounds like it's actually to go buy up more companies and consolidate?

Jim Mitchell: They're trying to find a piece of the pie that will help their company grow revenue, or even at that point, try to get to profitability. People don't realize that many of these companies are taking on those large swaths of money. They're not even profitable yet.

Kerry Guard: And they have to pay that money back.

Jim Mitchell: You have to pay that back if it's a convertible note or other debt financings. But eventually, shareholders, people who have bought those shares of the company, or that piece of the pie, will want to return on their money, and that's another issue. If you have a new CEO, and many of these companies have new CEOs. They've never taken on that much money. You see it a lot in tech, where CEOs will do it for a few years, and then they're like, “I don't know what else to do.” And that person will step into another role or completely exit the company altogether. They install someone who's a CEO and who's done all those things before. So like the CEO of Robin Hood, he's bundling a lot of things. It would not shock me with all the investment they've taken on, and they did their stack public offering. If he very soon as pushed out, if they don't reach some sort of even close to getting back to where they were before December when everything crashed for them.

Money can be great if you have the right leadership and plan. I've been on the flip side of that, where a company was going out looking for money for financing for investment, and they had a plan in place because they had to have a plan in place to go after and have these conversations. But that was on a much smaller scale with a company that was into data marketing and location marketing, where they went out and found the investment. However, they had a solid plan to grow the company, and they're still growing today. Whereas you have just people throwing money at you, and many of these industries will hit because they're rolling the dice to one of these. You see the same VC companies showing up in the news. People like Bain Capital and others don't know where they get all their money, but they're thrown in places. In that, that's what you end up with. And in one case, I was referencing where they brought on that $600 million in less than a year of me being there. And before that, they had taken on 120 million in another round. And then before that, they were up the series E or F, which is a lot around funding. Their balance sheet was huge. They just weren't spending it, and many included people were like, “Well, where's the growth for the people already here?” Their jobs can do what they're supposed to do, and there was no plan. They just got money, and they're spending it in places. They're like, “Well, why are you spending it on this when we have these issues over here that if we brought in this tool or admin for this type of program, we could fix these issues, and we get to where we need to go a lot quicker?” But attitudes change, people change, and the mission gets lost, and that’s the bad side. You look at the other side. If the plan is in place, good things can happen. I don't know the inner workings, but Splunk has done a good job of planning where their money comes from reading things in the cyber world. There are reports that Cisco wants to buy Splunk for $20 billion and bring them under their growing security business inside of Cisco. So that's an exit where you have money coming in; you have the exit looks like.

Kerry Guard: They've never seen the exit is more than the money they raised to grow the company, and you need to offer that. I just don't understand how you offset $500 million. That could only go so far, I would think.

Jim Mitchell: A lot of cybersecurity is its niche cybersecurity. You have different places where the addressable market is only so big. You have to go buy up companies and other niches that you think they're going to help your company bring in extra revenue and get you to profitability. And that's what you're going to see in cyber, especially in the next year or two. It's starting to happen now where people are getting bought up. There are a lot of smaller companies and cyber that have gotten 60 million or 70 million in funding, and then you have others that are in that hundred of millions of dollars in funding. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in funding that companies will buy up these smaller companies with decent products.

Kerry Guard: That's why there's a stitched together to create one offering.

Jim Mitchell: IBM and CISCO have been doing that for decades. Lenovo bought part of IBM as they shifted more to cloud infrastructure and technology and data centers. You're going to see that consolidation and picking up of different industries. They can make inroads into other forms of cybersecurity and technology, just not the niche they started with.

Kerry Guard: I got it. We've thrown around a lot of numbers, and it sounds like things like the 50 to 70, even maybe 90 at the top end, are like standard rounds of funding. When do you start raising an eyebrow? What's the timeline if you get 90 million in funding? Is that for three or five years, and then you look for your next round? Break this down for me.

Jim Mitchell: What I've experienced, seen, and learned from dealing with these rounds of funding and being at companies that we're taking them on is to look at what letter of the round of funding they're on. If they're honest, and if you're going to be on a series D, they're going to keep trying to raise. If you get a series B or C, they're that type of company that seems like they are getting to the point of going into that heavy growth mode. And if you're interviewing or finance or something, we're going to talk about it. I will look at that if you join those companies, and if you're interviewing with those types of companies or looking to work with those types of companies, look at those rounds of funding, see how large they were, and ask the questions. You might not get the answer because I have asked these questions like, what is the plan? From seeing these funding rounds with other companies, I know that the amount of money and rounds means something. Before you go in there, if they're promising you what this role will do, you need to figure out what the questions are to ask them and what will be important to you as an individual. And for me, it was like, “Well, where does this put me if you're going to keep if you've done this round of funding? If I see companies sitting on funding, and I've done this with several companies before I started working with them is, “Well, what's your five-year plan? I know that you've raised this amount of money through this many rounds, and this last round was XYZ. What does that mean for the company's plan? What does that mean for this role individually and the team I might be working with? That's probably one of the most important questions I've learned to ask when seeing these funding rounds. Because that'll tell you if you can ballpark and someone in the C-suite, or more than someone in the C-suite will leave and go somewhere else. They're going to get heat and get pulled, or the pressures will get too much, and they're going to get replaced. One of those two things might happen. Sometimes that's your direct boss.

Salespeople higher up in the sales hierarchy can take credit or a heavy contribution many times because they grew the revenue to the point where someone said, “Okay, I'll give you another bunch of money to keep doing that. Because I think I will get a bigger return if I keep giving you money.” Asking the plan for those things is important because if they keep promising you the world but are still a startup, you will have to wear many hats. You just got all these funding rounds, so you have the resources. So that's another red flag like, we're a startup if a company is always blaming things on being a startup. It was a huge red flag if a nine-year-old company that just took on a 50 million or how much money it was blaming things, a lack of resources. Lack of resources will eventually affect how successful you can be in your job. You can only do so much with so many resources. If you're under-resourced, it's going to be a huge issue, and if they blame, they're under being a resource on being a startup, and they've taken on all that money to me, is a red flag. Someone else might find that exciting because you get to do 9 million jobs and get paid for half of what

Kerry Guard: It sounds terrifying because if they have all this money, they expect to make up the money somewhere, and you're part of that solution, but you don't have the resources to make that happen. That sounds awful.

Jim Mitchell: The new thing is marketing source to risk revenue. They want to put a dollar number to what marketing is doing, which is fine. But if there are no resources to do that or the reporting is not set up correctly, many companies will immediately go and get a too big CRM for what they're doing. It doesn't match the company goals, or they don't have the resources to go into those large programs. I won't name names, but everyone knows I'm talking about going into those large programs, and you don't have the person that knows how to administer those things. But you have one person that you hired. It's like, “Oh, I can hack my way through it,” Then you're going to have issues, you're going to have data governance issues, data warehousing issues, data sync issues, and then you're going to bring on someone in marketing. You will tell them, " Yeah, here's your budget to bring on marketing technology.” And then you're going to have to work with that person to try and integrate that technology with other systems already in place, and those things aren't there. If you work in marketing operations in the marketing stack, that's another question I would ask if these companies are, “What do you do? Do you have a blank administrator for that program? Not someone who knows enough to hack their way through it to get the numbers the one person asked for, but do you have some of their day-to-day living in that program? As they say, no, I'd be weary.

Kerry Guard: A few people know what we're talking about for some of these bigger ones. Not that we're calling these programs out in any negative way. It's just that they're very big and cumbersome, and you do need to know your way around them, something like a HubSpot or an Adobe. Omniture is a beast, and If you don't know how to navigate it and set it up properly, then the data is useless.

Jim Mitchell: Now, many of these programs are consolidating, buying up other people, and making it more difficult if you have a program outside of the ecosystem they're trying to build. There's no support for it. There are ways of doing it, but if you don't have that person and resource who knows how to do that, that's their day-to-day. It's really tough. Marketing operations have been the most recent thing I've been doing, have morphed from more holistic marketing and strategy and having a technology piece to being almost solely technology-based.

Kerry Guard: In your opinion, is that where you should be headed or AI? Is that a good thing?

Jim Mitchell: It's human nature to try and silo people where marketing operations need to have their foot in the door. The people that work in those worlds, especially the managers. They can talk to it because there's an AI piece and what they can talk about, but they also know how to talk marketing, they can talk strategy, and how all that's going to play into it, whether that's creating content within your automation programs working with the designers. If you have a designer to get that content properly into your automation software, the person running your CRM could be able to talk that language a little bit. So you're more of a facilitator than a marketer, but you know, other languages, and you've done those things when you've had those conversations before. You might not know every single function of a software program, but that's where things are going. They're pushing people to this one side, which is heavy on technology, and I'm not a fan of it because I like to be on the creative side too. I like to drive creative strategy, and then I can take the numbers from the technology and the data sides. I can show someone running your campaign that might be the field marketer running their digital campaign. But suppose you're in one of the startups that typically happen, where they'll make steel marketers or the channel markers or run their -digital campaign with oversight. You can then take that data, show it, speak field marketing language, and be like, “This is what you're doing, here's where your ROI is, here's where you can improve, and here's where you can retarget. It's all getting pushed to your IT function rather than having your foot in both worlds function. I don't necessarily think it's a good thing because you're going to have someone, you're going to have people, and it's already started, but that only talks about its technology side.

Kerry Guard: There used to be a connection between all things. It sounds like it could work if they're set up properly to have the right resources and connections to talk to all these people. But if they're an island like you're talking about, I could see that being a real challenge, that they're not getting what they need to get their job done because they're siloed, and we're here in the tech world, and nothing else is connected.

Jim Mitchell: It’s correct. And very often don't have those resources, or the resources change, or there's a reallocation. And then you lose all that, and then you get more and more siloed. You might not start siloed, but you can see it being chipped away right in front of you. Your marketing operations should be more of a fairy between the sides versus standing on the bank on one side and staring at the other side, wishing like, I wish I could help them over there, but I can't.

Kerry Guard: It sounds like when companies get all this money from everything you're saying, the problem is that they don't have a plan. And then the money goes to it doesn't go to any resources. You're still expected to do your current job less because if they're buying up other companies, your job falls away because they're using another function from another company they just brought on. Your resources get chipped away. And so, you may be trying to do it with fewer resources or the wrong resources. It sounds all well and good to grow, but at what end?

Jim Mitchell: Go back to the wrong resources. You might be using these tools that worked for this company doing this amount of revenue and size deal, but then you get a bunch of money. We're going to go up, and we're going to acquire that company and go in. They're using a tool that doesn't match what we're doing, but we want to bring the two together. You run into that where you have people butting heads up about which resources are the best and whose experience matches what the goal has become now that you've acquired a company or brought on all this cash. And then I've also seen it where you take on that money, and you don't know what resources to get because you don't know where the company wants you to go or where the department's supposed to go. Revenue goals, company goals, and departmental goals are going to shift. Without a plan in place, you could be under-resourced, over-resourced, or not have the right resources and tools that have the right people. And that's what you see, a lot of times when people merge with another company, or they take on money. Within three months, you go on Glassdoor, and you see all these posts and their people. Companies' ratings are just going into the ground because of not having a plan, or the plan wasn't right. All kinds of things could happen, and I have not seen a company that takes on a large amount of money and does it right.

Kerry Guard: That was my next question. I was sort of land with this.

Jim Mitchell: I have a small company and a smaller amount of money because they're going out with a plan to get that money and a lot of love.

Kerry Guard: luck. And then to grow, find their own revenue to grow, take that money to invest in their company's growth, and then pay it back and continue to grow on their own. When companies take on this kind of money, what are the good goals for companies, even if it's the right amount? Is it to get bought? Is it to go public? Why would you take on that kind of money? What's for the brand to take on that kind of responsibility?

Jim Mitchell: When you're taking on the smaller amounts of money, you probably dream of a billion-dollar exit. But the likelihood, even though they said there had been more unicorns than ever in history in the last year. When you're a smaller company and take on half a million dollars or whatever amount of money, your goal is not ultimately to the exit part. It's to drive that mission forward and people you have onboard to treat them well. And to bring more people on board to further the mission that you have a hold on because you're going out and you're raising a very deliberate amount of money. And you've come up with a plan. You've shown people the plan for it, and you have a plan to get them a return on their investment.

When you take on gobs of money, like mountains of money, which many companies are getting right now, or you go public, you can raise tons of money that creates another. I don't have too much experience with the public offerings thing, but the large sums of money change the company's fundamental purpose. You're probably looking at going public when you're raising those large sums of money, and that's probably your end goal and the people in charge of bringing those companies public like that. There are typically financial rewards for that. They've probably gotten their stock options. They're bringing it to a public market to sell shares to your institutional investors at that point or just individuals to the multitude of platforms we have. There are financial rewards for a company's leadership to do that, where they have XYZ amount of shares. The company that will automatically turn into, I can sell these within six months of the company going public, or whatever the embargo period is in their contractor, Securities Exchange Commission, or whatever people are running the markets. It becomes very individualistic when a company is bringing on that amount of money versus when you're putting on a small amount of money. It's a lot harder for a company to go public than someone's brought all that money, then it's now on them to get public. The shareholder can get dividends, sell their stock and make their money back. That's what those large sums of money, in my experience, have been the point, and then you can see it change the leadership's way of going about things. They see financial rewards for themselves because they've been given stock brands versus options, which you usually give the lower-level people. They have to buy those options to make them worth anything, even if they are of low quality. I've been in situations where I still would have had to buy the options even if there was a liquidity event. Another thing I've learned as I've gotten older is that I don't care for stock options. I'd rather have stock grants. Can you give me a stock grant?

Kerry Guard: That sounds like you would have a good base salary. It would be nice. I'll take that to guarantee. Now, this is helpful because I know a lot of companies or this is happening, and as you're looking at the red flags, what are the good questions to ask if you're joining a tech company that's raising a ton of money and trading, essentially, the mission for cash, and what did they set out originally to do. Those are things to consider when looking at a job and what you're trying to accomplish as an individual. If you just need a button or money, grind it out for a few years to have that good salary, have those stock options, wear all those hats, and know what you're in for. The important thing to note and everything we're talking about is knowing what you're walking into, being promised the world, and uncovering all of this. Once you're in, it just wears.

Jim Mitchell: It can be disheartening when you come into a company and suddenly see the shift in what's going on. And you're like, “Oh, man. This is not what I signed up for, and it is not what I was told would happen.” And that's the risk of going into a place that is a growth stage company coming out of a period. They were a startup, which I'd still like better clarity for myself as a human being like, what’s the definition of a startup because those lines keep getting blurred more and more. If you come into a company at that point that raised 150 million or however much like, you're no longer a startup.

Kerry Guard: No, you should be acting like one at least.

Jim Mitchell: It’s like, “You can't tell me this. You just took on all that money. You have to tell me there's revenue somewhere legitimizing the amount of money from investors.” Versus “We’re a startup. This company’s on my credit card.”

Kerry Guard: Yeah, for sure. Well, Jim, thank you so much for all this information. It's so helpful in navigating where companies are going and what these series mean, and what's happening on the inside when it happens. It’s good to know, and hopefully, people can figure it out. There's a balance between slow growth over time and driving your mission. And also, grinding not long on a product you believe in for so long, there's got to be some payout. I think there's a balance and not losing yourself and the mission, for the cost of it is important.

Jim Mitchell: It's about for, for me, going forward. It's about doing my research. And knowing what questions to ask, going into these smaller companies, or aren't so small, but want to say they're small, and I'm not trying to scare people away from working at a startup because I would 100% work for another startup. I know a better way of asking and getting the answers that I need to determine if I get an offer if I'm going to take it.

Kerry Guard: Agreed, and you laid it out so nicely for us. And I'll have the transcript in the notes as well. People want to skim and remind themselves of those questions and those red flags to look for. Thank you.

Jim Mitchell: Absolutely! Thanks for having me.

Kerry Guard: Before we close, I have my people's first questions because you're more than a marketer. We have a life outside of work. I hope to some degree. Just pull back that curtain. Are you ready? The first one for you is, what new hobbies have you picked up in the last year or two? Given them locked down and all sorts of world-changing events.

Jim Mitchell: A friend of mine, we're trying to get into competition barbecues. So we've been doing a lot of cooking. I think many people have been doing a lot of cooking, but we found it therapeutic. He got a bunch of money from his parents for Christmas. I don't know where they got the money out of care. We went to Costco and bought a bunch of meat for him. And so every couple of weekends, we get together, and we test new recipes. We got into trying to get into competition barbecue.

Kerry Guard: I stepped up my game a little bit. Not as fancy as your smoker over there, but I did get an air fryer. I certainly saved the day many times when it came to quick dinners and good barbecue food.

Jim Mitchell: That's one of the great things now. They're building air fryers directly into ovens.

Kerry Guard: That's smart because they're so efficient.

Jim Mitchell: You won't have to sit on your counter and take up space.

Kerry Guard: It does, and it takes up a good chunk of space, but I use it every day now. It's awesome. Okay, second question for you. I know you're 1099, and you're contracting around. But if you could be in an office with people just to be in the absolute position, you would love to do the work you love to do with a great team of people. You can just picture me, Jim. You're walking the floors and hanging out with your team. What song would you want playing ever had to set the tone?

Jim Mitchell: I would go with Jumpin' Jack Flash. Rolling Stones. Okay, I don't know why. It’s just the first one that popped into my head.

Kerry Guard: I love it and can't go wrong with the stones. Last question for you. If you could travel anywhere in the world with no red tape, testing, or having to show all the vaccine paperwork at all the lands. Where would you go and why?

Jim Mitchell: I want to go to a Banff National Park in Canada. I just saw the pictures, and I want to go. I break my ankle hiking in, but we get to do

Kerry Guard: We're just picturing it and being there and enjoying it. It’s lovely and awesome. The song will be on a Spotify playlist, and this will be up in a few weeks. Thank you, Jim. Thank you for joining me.

Jim Mitchell: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.


Startups to join, be sure to ask them what their goals are. If you hear words around crazy funding and insane growth, follow up to ask what their end goal is to exit by their companies get bought. If they seem to have a great culture, ask how they plan on maintaining that and holding on to the people they've worked so hard to hire thus far.

Lean and do your homework. Find the right fit for you to see ahead. I think that's what happens a lot of the time is that all sounds great on paper, but then when the exponential growth comes, the buyout happens, and the merger is final; it's hard to see the forest for the trees. So this was helpful. Thank you for your insight, Jim. If you'd like to connect with Jim, you can find him on LinkedIn. The link is in the show notes.

This is the final episode of season two 11, and what a lineup it has been. If you have not listened to all of the episodes, be sure to skip around, find the right episodes for you and learn from these amazing folks in the business to help their companies grow, keep their cultures alive, and find the right fit for their teams. The struggle is real, and these marketers are living it every day. I've learned so much from each one of them, and I'm so grateful.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast so that when season 12 drops, you're ready because what a lineup that will be as well. I continue to talk to security and data management marketers and a few wildcards in there, because why not?

Thank you so much for tuning in to this season of Tea Time with Tech Marketing leaders.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

If you'd like to be a guest please visit to apply.

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