4 October 2023 Back

Episode One: Swaying with Strangers Podcast

Q&AGrowth Early StagesMarketing

Host: Michael Friedberg, CEO

Guest: Greg Sheehan, Founder & CEO

In the first episode of Swaying with Strangers we chat with Greg Sheehan, a seasoned Kiwi business leader known for his strategic and financial expertise. At only 29, Greg's career took off when he was appointed as CFO for Nike Australia and New Zealand. Following this he worked as Group Financial Controller for Air New Zealand and Director of Partner Management at Xero.

Before long, Greg's entrepreneurial spirit led him to co-found a series of companies, including his own Accountancy practice Sheehan & Shaw and RightWay, one of Xero's largest accounting partners and a business that grew at lighting speed, teaching Greg the intricacies of scaling and capital raising. In 2019, he founded PlayBooks, a platform offering targeted financial advice and guidance to businesses.

Greg's hugely successful career has been a testament to his resilience and vision. He believes in the power of strategic storytelling and is always ready for the next challenge. With a multi-disciplinary approach and a focus on innovation, Greg Sheehan is a formidable force in the business landscape.

In this episode, Michael and Greg chew the fat on everything from scaling a business offshore to growth strategy, marketing investment, and brand building.

Key takeouts:

  1. Challenges in scaling - Greg shares the challenges he's faced when growing and scaling businesses and how it's been a journey fraught with difficulties and the "scars" to prove it.
  2. Product-market fit - Greg emphasises the importance of ensuring that companies are actually solving a problem with their products and the importance of strong product-market fit.
  3. Focus areas for CEOs - Greg shares his thoughts on what CEOs should focus on to adapt to market changes, and how this focus is critical differentiator for successful leadership and growth at speed.
  4. Resource allocation in marketing - Michael and Greg discuss how limited marketing budgets lead to too much focus on capturing immediate intent, and how this should be a point of concern for CEOs aiming for long-term, sustainable growth.
  5. Brand strategy for future growth - The role of brand and brand experience as key factors for future growth, and how important it is for CEOs to consider their brand as a strategic asset worth investing in.
  6. B2B marketing trends - The shift in B2B marketing from being purely rational and transactional to incorporating creativity and emotion to build connection and influence changes in buyer behaviour.
  7. Marketing mindset - The need for tech companies and in particular their CEO's to build a marketing mindset that is infused throughout their business, not a silo'd marketing function.

In a rush? Here are the highlights with timestamps:

✴️ 5.45: How to avoid the mistake of thinking your idea is a great one without connecting to how the idea solves a problem or create pleasure

✴️ 9.28: When you're building that founding team there are 3 essential roles, the Hustler, the Hipster and Hacker. What are they and why are they so important?

✴️ 14.12: Why creativity is your friend, why we remember the campaigns that made us feel something and why the CEO needs to lean into the creative process, skirt close to the edge to unlock something special. 

✴️ 18.17: Why your brand is not what you think it is, but is in fact what the market thinks it is. And why the CEO must be the chief storyteller to connect the brand to its tribe.

✴️ 24.15: No one wakes up in the morning wanting to create an ordinary business. Why the CEO must have a marketing mindset at their very core because the brand is their why. But how does a marketing mindset come to life on a day-to-day basis.

✴️ 28.32: Why losing a customer is a campfire moment for a team, to gain insights, learn and improve.  

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