Leading under the current circumstances is an audition to lead for the coming years. Being able to step up as a leader amid the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to cement a strong future for your company and yourself.
Last week, Scott Dorsey, Managing Director of High Alpha, joined us to chat about all things leadership and fundraising (you can check out the recording here).
Prior to High Alpha, Scott co-founded ExactTarget and led the company as CEO and Chairman from start-up to global marketing software leader. ExactTarget went public on the New York Stock Exchange in March of 2012 and was acquired by Salesforce in July of 2013 for $2.5 Billion. Post-acquisition, he led the Salesforce Marketing Cloud which encompassed 3,000 employees around the world.
It is safe to say that Scott knows what it means to be a leader. Scott started ExactTarget during the Dot-com Bubble and successfully IPO’d shortly after the Great Recession.
The webinar was full of stories and anecdotes from Scott’s time building ExactTarget. Check out our favorite takeaways below:
Cash is King
While cash has always been king, Scott mentions that it is even more important during a downturn. As a founder, you need to have a deep understanding of your cash flow and burn rate. It may be difficult to fundraise during a downturn but you need to be able to show your investors that you can (1) make it through a downturn and (2) thrive on the other side. If you can successfully display that you’re in a good cash position and ready to thrive after, you’ll improve your odds of raising capital.
Closer than ever with Customers
During uncertain times, it is more important than ever to be close to your customers. Your customers are going through the same things that you are going through. Establish and preserve your relationship so you can grow together on the other side of the downturn.
In the early days, Scott suggests companies project confidence, show they’re stable, and are growing & innovative. One of the best ways to do this is by envisioning your 3, 5, and 10 year journey with potential customers. Where will you be in 10 years? What will the product and relationship look like? Clients want to lock-in on a long-term relationship. If you don’t have everything built in the immediate, that’s fine. Show that you can be all the way there in the future.
The Friday Note
During uncertain times most leaders communicate less. However, communication is one of the best ways to make it through a downturn. Scott has almost become synonymous with the “Friday Note.” Simply put, the Friday Note was an email Scott sent every Friday to everyone in the company letting them know what was happening with the business.
During the Great Recession, Scott found himself communicating with employees less. From that point, Scott made it a point to send a note every Friday to the team so everyone always knew what was happening and there was a path to 1-on-1 communication. In fact, Scott turned all of his Friday Notes into a book when ExactTarget was acquired by Salesforce.
Personal Board of Directors
According to Jim Rohm, “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” With that being said, it is important to surround yourself with a diverse mix of people who are smart, friendly, and can grow with.
Scott himself has a personal board of directors made up of about 5-6 people. These are people that Scott can lean on for guidance, faith, personal balance, etc. This is your inner circle — don’t be afraid to approach people you admire to ask for help.
We hope this is helpful as you work through these uncertain times. Scott is the definition of a leader and a reminder that great leaders and businesses can be built during downturns. As a reminder, you can check out the full webinar recording here.