I’m so glad you joined us because we have Elay Cohen and Susan Sly here. Elay is a CEO and Co-Founder of SalesHood. He’s got a new book that’s going to be interesting. Susan Sly is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, coach and she does a lot of amazing things with her new company.
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Mastering Enablement with Elay Cohen
I am here with Elay Cohen who is the CEO and Co-Founder of SalesHood. He’s the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. He has been recognized as a top executive. He has got an amazing background. He’s also got a book titled Enablement Mastery. This is going to be really interesting. I’m so excited to have you on the show. Elay, welcome
Thank you for having me. Congrats to you as well on your book and all your success.
I am interested in what you do. We talked a tiny bit before the show and we both have an interest in sales. I had a lot of people from Salesforce on the show. You have an amazing background. I think before that you were at Oracle, right?
I was at Oracle for a few years too. I remember when I was at Oracle and I left to go to Salesforce, people thought I was crazy, “Why would you go into that startup?”
Tell a little bit about your background. We gave a little hint there. What’s your platform, where you came from and that type of thing?
I’m from Toronto originally. I love starting with Toronto. We were first-time immigrants into Canada. My father had a retail furniture store, and I love growing up with selling and furniture just with the energy around that. My parents are from Israel. You can imagine what it was like. From Toronto, I did an undergraduate degree, I did a graduate degree and did an MBA. I love learning and I love coaching. I had a great coach with my father teaching me how to sell. My mom taught me also. She was really arm and arm with me while I was going through school, helping me out. This idea of helping people and going the extra mile to make people successful, I grew up with that with my family. I wanted to do the same thing back. When I got into the technology industry when I left Toronto, I came to Silicon Valley and worked at a startup for Oracle. I wanted to build, I wanted to create but I wanted to enable. I’ve been wanting to enable people from the very beginning before we called it enablement.Building a company is a lot of work. You can go faster with more people that believe. Click To Tweet
Enablement is a term that a lot of people are confused about. I was watching some of your interviews from other episodes. I saw you were on Gerhard Gschwandtner’s show. The enablement to some people who aren’t in sales or it’s a newer way of looking at things, can you define what you mean by enablement?
For me and for many people that I work with, enablement is more than sales training. People just bucket enablement in this sales training. It’s a lot more. I wrote the book, Enablement Mastery, because I wanted to educate leaders, educate practitioners around how to elevate their thinking around enablement. To answer your question directly, enablement is how companies can go to market faster, can grow their business faster by aligning their people, processes and priorities. I spent a lot of time thinking about what are the pillars of successful organizations? I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve had the good fortune of working with tens of thousands of people over the years who have all been embracing enablement as a go-to-market driver. The unifying theme is aligning people, process and priorities.
I’m going to tell you a story about my time at Salesforce which inspires that thinking. I want you to imagine I’m getting called into Marc Benioff’s office. Myself, the head of sales, head of marketing, I was responsible for enablement, whatever that meant back then. Remember, we’re talking about aligning people, process and priorities. Marc, a very visionary, amazing thinker, he pushed our thinking and said, “We need to get every customer-facing employee aligned with the pitch and aligned with the messages. I want brand consistency to be down to the spoken word of every single seller. I want every prospect and buyer, when they’re interacting with us, I want us to have the same experience.” He’s flipping through his slides and his corporate pitch deck and he’s going through it and explaining the storyline. We thought he was going to give us the pitch deck. Then he turned to me and said, “Now that we’re all agreed and we’re aligned around the messages in here, it’s your job to get our people aligned. I want to make sure our processes are aligned. You’ve got 30 days to coach and certify every customer-facing employee. Go.”
We could do that when we have 300 sellers, but that’s the ultimate in alignment. You had a CEO that was a visionary that believed in enabling his people, that believed in messaging alignment is an essential success factor of how the company is going to win and how they’re going to beat the competition: Oracle, Microsoft, Siebel at the time. That terminated the leadership team. You look at folks like Jim Steele, Linda Crawford and all of these great leaders. They took Marc’s cue. It became this top-down strategy where we would always get Marc’s pitch decks. We would get his playbooks. We get how he wanted us to sell based on how he thought we would win in the market. Then we would certify and coach the leadership team. I would do that and then they would go certify and coach their people.
You can imagine this wave of enablement that would happen quarter after quarter. It wasn’t just like throwing people in a room and train them. We needed to get the messages aligned. We needed to make sure they were documented. We needed to make sure the managers were going first. We needed to make sure that the managers are aligned and that they’re able to reinforce the messages in their one-on-ones and in their team meetings. We needed to make sure that all of our processes, our sales automation tools, all of the processes that we have in the company, our customer success process industry back to Salesforce. We need to make sure that everybody was aligned on messaging. That’s hard work to get to every department.
That’s my mission now. The idea of helping companies appreciate the importance of enablement, value the impact it can have on a business and then figure out how they’re going to operationalize it with their teams and their leaders is why I wrote Enablement Mastery and why I founded the company, SalesHood. Salesforce was a great place to learn and it was a great place to execute. We had an amazing CEO who was very forward-thinker when it came to it. To my big surprise when I left Salesforce, the way that he thought of enablement was not most companies and most leaders were thinking that way.
I was in sales before Salesforce got to be really popular and more know utilized. I always thought that was such a cool place to work if it had been around when I was younger. It’s got to give you quite a background. I was listening to you talk about how you came up with the name of your company, SalesHood. You also talked about Arthur, your Co-Founder. I want to know how you found Arthur because that’s the thing a lot of people need when you were describing what he did, he balanced you out. Can you tell that story?
I appreciate that story. I left Salesforce and made the decision that I was going to solve this problem of enablement at scale. I created my own pitch deck for the company. I wrote down our storyline and started thinking about how we would solve the problem of getting teams to be more productive? The way I was thinking about it was video, mobile and peer-to-peer learning. It was an innovative thing a few years ago. It still is very innovative. I started talking to venture capitalists. That’s what you do in Silicon Valley. When you have an idea, you go start looking for money. I already had customers that were willing to work with us. The VCs were all really interested but they all started saying the same thing, “Who’s your Parker Harris?” Parker Harris is Marc Benioff’s Co-Founder. He was the technical mind behind the whole platform and the infrastructure.
They said, “You need an amazing CTO. You need an amazing cofounder who can take your ideas. Your ideas are big, your ideas are great. You’re going to define a new marketing category, but you can’t build. That’s not your experience.” I’m a salesperson. My dad taught me how to sell. My mom taught me how to sell. I’ve been learning and coaching. I’ve been enabling but I haven’t been necessarily building. I started going on a journey for about a month. I found the URL was registered on March 13th, 2013. I spent April interviewing so many people. I interviewed different kinds of engineers, different kinds of engineering leaders, senior ones, junior ones, CTO, a whole bunch. I didn’t really find my match. Then one day, one of those VCs that I met, his name is Matt Hollerin. He’s got a fund now. He sent me a text and said, “I found your match.”
He sent me Arthur’s LinkedIn profile. He was in retirement. Arthur had several successful startups. I had a good run at Salesforce. He had several good runs. We ended up scheduling a time to meet for coffee, tea. We met and spent a couple of hours together. He had a few simple questions around the company, the vision, the market, the opportunity and the players. He was nodding his head. Then I had a few questions for him about technology. We realized that we were almost filling in each other’s sentences. From that time that we met for coffee and tea to the time we signed our partnership, it was less than a week. It is a partnership. We decided that we’re going to do this together.Leadership is about creating a space where you can ask people questions and get their feedback. Click To Tweet
For anyone out there who is founding a company when you were in the early days, I could not have done this without having Arthur, a technical co-founder. He’s my partner, and he’s a brother to me now. We become really close. We have really done this together. We’re a perfect match, a perfect fit. We had our company kickoff in January 2019, and I opened it up saying, “Arthur and I are still in the honeymoon phase of our partnership. We’re still creating and still innovative. We’re still having so much fun. We can still get in a room and whiteboard and talk. We still answer each other’s sentences out and fill each other’s sentences. We’re still having so much fun and for that, I’m truly grateful.” I appreciate you picking up that story and asking. It’s a good one.
It is a very interesting story to me because I’m like you, I’m a sales-thinking person. I thought I understand technology. I’m not coding and doing that part of it. It’s hard to find that part of the business, at least in my experience, where they’re at the same speed, they’re thinking the same way. What advice would you give somebody on how to find your perfect partner if somebody doesn’t text you the perfect person?
I wrote down a job description. I don’t think I wrote down the job description for a co-founder partner. I wrote down the job description for a VP engineering. That held me back a little bit and it built me into interview mode. I started interviewing people. It is important to write down what you’re looking for. As I reflect, it is important to write down your individual strengths, “How could I have prescriptively found my Arthur?” In hindsight, I could have written down my strengths and I could have written down the areas where I need some assistance, the areas that can complement a partnership with someone. It goes way beyond the technical skillset.
He’s got a different style of communication. He’s got a different decision-making process, which is the perfect complement to me. He has high energy, and he’s fast-paced. He’s fast-paced in a different way. He’s very thoughtful and very agile in his thinking. Create what would be the ideal team and then identify the skills that you have in that team. Identify the skills that you don’t have and just be honest about them. Look for people that can help fill those gaps in. I’m lucky to have Arthur. The more the merrier. Why not have more partners that all believe in the vision and they all want to go the distance? It’s a heavy lift to build a company. It’s a lot of work. You can go faster with more people, I believe.
Your company is doing amazingly well. You’re working with some forward-thinking educational institutions now. I’ve taught so many courses and I am always interested in the educational aspect of it. A lot of people write books that go along with what they’re doing. Your book goes along with what your company does. A lot of people want to know what they can expect in the book. What can they get out of this? I know that it helps align people, processes and priorities. In your last book, was that the one in SalesHood that you had the acronym, SUCCESS?
The first book is all about sales coaching and it is a moment in time. It captures the Salesforce’s best practices. I wrote the book for the frontline sales manager. For the first book, if you’re a frontline manager or VP of sales, it’s perfect because you can instill a culture of enablement into your organization and you can start seeing results. It’s that lens. The new book I believe is bigger in the sense of it looks at the people, the process and the priority. What it means is we’re going to look at the persona of what makes good enablement leaders because enablement leaders come from a variety of different places. Quickly, the book is being prescriptive on how to hire, how to recruit, how to develop people in your organization so that way you can start building the right teams and have enablement.
In the first section of the book, people are going to look at the organizational structure. We’re going to look at ratios. We’re going to also look at building organizational buy-in. I’m not presuming enablement is a given in Enablement Mastery, so you’ve got to build a foundation of having the right skills, having the right organizational structure, the right resources, the right budgeting. That’s really the first third of the book. It is very different than my first book that assumed that everybody does sales coaching, everybody does enablement. As I am talking through with you, Diane, it’s an interesting mind shift change.
The second part of the book is once you’ve got the right people, the right buy-in, the right budgeting and the right foundation of people and organizational structure, how do you then get teams to collaborate? I built an enablement process map that looks at market alignment, learning best practices, communications and buyer enablement. It looks at how to measure and correlate achievements. It builds a process map that can get teams, whether you’re in marketing, whether you’re in sales ops, whether you’re in enablement, whether in sales leadership, whether you’re in support, whether you’re in product that basically tells everyone, “Here’s who does what,” so we can roll out campaigns, better products and product training better. You can roll out initiatives more effectively and collaboratively as a team because enablement can live in different parts of the company. Enablement functions can live in marketing and human resources and so forth. As long as everybody’s speaking the same language and has alignment around the key processes of what makes good enablement, then you can actually execute together as a team.
Then the third part of the book is about priorities. What are some of the top priorities? I walk you through how to set up a university, how to set up manager enablement, how to run kickoffs. That’s the book. The book is filled with a lot of great summary to-do list, a lot of checklists, a lot of great visual org charts and things like that. You can open the book and go to a chapter if it’s something that’s top of mind for you in your business or you can read it from end to end. It was great to write. The last comment I’ll make is Enablement Mastery is filled with stories, and it’s stories of amazing practitioners. We’ve got folks from DocuSign, Alteryx, FinancialForce, Yext, Sage, from a lot of great companies that have just done it, lived it and seen amazing results. We were able to capture their stories and make them part of the book as well. There’s a nice injection of reality that is going to get people really hooked on the book and how to implement it in their businesses.
I don’t know if you are aware, but Keith Krach who was a former chair at DocuSign wrote the foreword to my book. I am impressed by everything that they’ve done at DocuSign. He was so humble, and he was one of the most curious people I’ve ever interviewed. It was great to talk about all this stuff with what makes companies successful. You had talked about solving teams, being more productive. That was a lot of what I was trying to do with curiosity. When you talked about how to set up a university, now I’m curious about that. What do you mean by setting up a university within the organization? How are you addressing things like curiosity to become more innovative?
I know there’s a lot there. First, we’ve got commonality between us with DocuSign. One of the stories in the book is about Neil Hudspith who is a former president. He reported to Keith for many years. Remember my story with Marc Benioff, how I go into Marc’s office? Neil did the same thing when it came to goals and messages. He’d kick off every kick off with the video that was personalized. He’s inviting the team to record their stories, their win stories, their great accomplishments and what they want to get done in the coming year. There’s an example of another company that embraced enablement. I love that. Another company that we work with to comment on your university question, Alteryx and FinancialForce are two great companies. Alteryx has embraced enablement. Their IPO, they’ve done extremely well. Amy Pence is the Director of Enablement. She lived in sales first.
Think about this, where should enablement live as a big part of what we talk about in the first section of the book? Amy got tapped on the shoulder by Dean Stoker, her CEO and said, “Let’s take all the learning that you’ve done, all the best practices around enablement that we’re doing is sales. I want to up level it and make it become standard operating procedure for all our roles.” They built the Alteryx University. It’s an interesting point in time where sales is now teaching HR on how to up-level their enablement, how to up-level their learning. When we talk about building a university, we’re talking about creating structured learning paths, creating a community of learning, creating a culture of ongoing coaching and learning. We’re talking about introducing tools and engaging frontline managers in the learning journeys. We’re talking about building a university not just for sales but for the whole company because learning and enablement are companywide. That’s the ultimate of aligning people process and priorities. Alteryx is a great example of a company that has embraced that in their market and in their culture.
There are so many great companies that have done a lot with university training in the community. I go to a few guest lecturing on curiosity and different things. Right now, everybody’s trying to solve a lot of the issues: innovation, engagement, productivity, all the things you basically deal with. What I’d like to see is to develop more curious organizations that look into opening up for asking questions and providing solutions. I’m curious what you thought about the Google-type situations where they have a certain pet project at times, to work on what you want to work on it. Do you need that or is it a culture that already embraces curiosity? What’s your thought on that?
Overall, we can always be more curious. I’m grateful for you writing the book and trying to spread best practices and leadership around curiosity. I love projects like that. I love having a culture where managers are trying to develop their people by asking questions versus giving them the answers where you have leaders like Neil Hudspith at DocuSign that literally asks the question, “What are you going to do to achieve your goals this year?” Everybody would answer that question. Companies that can use curiosity as a way to lead, as a way to develop their people, as a way to engage in a bi-directional conversation between their people, their partners, their customers. Ultimately, we will learn more and we’ll perform better and we’ll achieve their goals faster, better. Everybody will feel like they’re part of it, which is what you want to do whether you’re buying a product or whether you’re wrong at an initiative.
If you are curious about the participants, how they can contribute and how they can ultimately help achieve a greater good, greatness does happen. Create a space where you can ask people questions, get their feedback. That to me is amazing leadership. Your book is great at helping leaders be better at embracing curiosity in how they even just engage in one-on-ones. We’re a big believer in that. We’re a big believer in, “Let’s enable and develop organizational culture and curiosity. Let’s enable this curiosity into coaching that happens team-based, one-on-one based. Let’s instill curiosity into how we engage with our buyers by asking them questions. Let’s not presume we know what they need. Let’s get curious about what their current situation is, what their problems are, and how can we solve those problems.”
I’ve been coached by some of the best in the industry around curiosity. Barry Rhein, he’s got curiosity methodologies. Barry’s selling through curiosity. He’s an advisor to me. He’s mentioned in my book. I’m blessed to have Barry in my life and I love it. I’ll post a problem and he comes back with a question. I’m like, “Of course, you are,” but that’s what we need. We need to be reminded of the importance of taking a step back and look at what problem we’re trying to solve. It’s a big part of the enablement process map. In my book, there’s a whole chapter devoted to going to market alignment and there are more questions in there than answers.
Enablement people tend to work a lot. They tend to work hard. They tend to be givers. They want to help. They want to coach. They’ll jump in too fast and try and solve problems and build training and build onboarding programs before they understand what core problem we’re solving, before they get curious about what’s going through their leaders’ minds. That’s an important part. What can we do to get more of our people, get more of our teams, get more of our culture, get more of our leaders to be more curious? I love to see a curiosity conference. We should do a conference and it should be the Curiosity Conference.
That sounds like a great idea and it’s been so nice talking about this, Elay. A lot of people want to know how to find out more, get your book and contact you. Is there some link or information you want to share?
The easiest thing is LinkedIn is a source. Enablement Mastery, you can find my book on Amazon, you can go to the SalesHood.com website. There will be links on there. There are some videos explaining the book in some ways for you to download chapters of the book or you can buy the book, however you want to engage with us. Connect with me on LinkedIn. It’s easy as well. I’m very responsive and I always love meeting new people. I’m curious to know what folks think about my book. Read the book and let me know what you think. Twitter as well, @ElayCohen. There are many ways, Diane. Hopefully, someone can find a channel that is appropriate to them in that little summary that I just gave.
I am sure they will find you if they are looking up SalesHood. It’s so nice to talk to you about this. This is all stuff that’s right up my alley. It’s everything I’m interested in and I really enjoyed our conversation, Elay. Thank you.
Thank you for making the time for me to be on your show. It means a lot to me.
The Future Of AI And Machine Learning with Susan Sly
I am here with Susan Sly who’s a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, a certified coach. If I listed all the things she does, we’d be here all day. She’s appeared on CNN, CNBC and Fox. You’ve seen her quoted in Forbes everywhere. She’s the author of seven books. One of her books is with the Jack Canfield series, it made it six times on the Amazon bestselling list. She is a super athletic person, and apparently has completed the Boston Marathon six times. It’s so nice to have you here, Susan.
Thanks so much, Diane, for having me. I want to give you some props because what you’re doing in the world is so impressive, all the guests you’re bringing to your show and highlighting the cool things people are doing in the world. It’s an honor to be here. I want to acknowledge everyone in the audience. I hope that something inspires you to take some action in your life. Dr. Diane, thanks again for having me.
It was nice of Zach Ferris to introduce us. We lived probably ten minutes from each other and didn’t even realize it. We’re both in the Scottsdale area and we have a lot in common except for I could not do an Iron Man.
You could if you didn’t want to do any other thing in your life.
I don’t know if my joints would take it at this point, but I did a half marathon. I was training for one once and got about nine miles before I got a stress fracture. That was as far as I got. I liked it. If I had the joints for it, I would do it because I love hiking and very athletic stuff but each year, that gets a little harder. I know that we have other things in common though. You did a course at MIT on AI and machine learning. I’m very interested in that. I want to get a little more of background because in case people haven’t seen you and don’t know your background, can you give us a little story about how you get to this point?In the face of challenge, we can give up or get better. Click To Tweet
Sometimes we look at people and we look at their accomplishments. It’s easy to look at the glory but not know the story. I can’t take credit for that. When I was in a hotel in LA a million years ago, I was doing a speaking event with John Assaraf and some other guys who were in The Secret. I turn on the television and there was a bio on Natalie Cole. She was saying this old saying, “You only see the glory. You don’t know the story.” Where my story begins is back in 2000. I was on radio and television. I owned a health club. I was a celebrity trainer in Canada. I was a Pro Iron Man athlete. I was a young mom and I was also a professor of nutrition. My days were just being 60-hour days and grinding it out and everything. You mentioned your joints. My body starts to break down and I started dropping things. I’d be teaching my students. I’d usually have about 180 a semester and I just dropped the chalk. I was getting vertigo and I wasn’t sleeping.
I went to my doctor who was one of my clients. I said, “Something’s not right.” He said, “It’s just stress.” How many times have we heard that? He goes, “Go on a vacation.” I ended up going on vacation feeling worse. I came back in with a yellow Post-It note. I said, “You come to me when you want to know what to eat, how to train, what shoes to wear.” I said, “Here’s the thing. I want this test, this test, this test.” I ended up getting all the tests done. Do you remember when we were changing over to the year 2000 and everyone’s freaking out about Y2K? It was just a few days after that the world was still intact, but my world fell apart. He called me in and he held up a scan of my brain and it looked like fish in a fishbowl. He said, “Susan, you have the worst case of MS the hospital’s ever seen. You will be in a wheelchair in ten years, dead in twenty.” I was 27 years old.
Three days after that, I’m searching online, a chat log pops up. Let’s just say it was rather salacious. It wasn’t for me. It was for my then husband. Sixteen weeks later, I lost my business, ended up homeless, living on my brother-in-law’s sofa as a single mom. There’s a PhD in life right there. One of the things I’ve always said, whether I’ve been on a stage doing events where Tony Robbins was speaking or any of these people, I always say in the face-off challenge, we can give up or get better. I was humbled. It was like the Matrix, the red pill, the blue pill. Everything I thought my life was, it was actually built on a facade because it was about what I was doing or the car I was driving or the handbag or the television or who I was hanging out with. Suddenly in a moment, I was humbled.
At that point, I literally got on my knees and I just said, “God, if you show me the way, I’ll do the work.” I was exhausted. That was the turning point in my life. I really learned that’s where I immersed myself in reading the books, Think and Grow Rich and The Alchemist and listening to motivational speakers and immersing myself in doing the work. Three years later, I started a business. I became a millionaire. I started speaking in front of people. It was from such a different place. That brings me up today. Back in university, I had two loves: health and coding. Fast forward in time, I get to work in tech. I get to work in digital marketing, I get to speak and I get to have the privilege of inspiring people to live lives where they’re healthier and they’re more on purpose and they’re also embracing the new world that we’re living in. That’s the abbreviated version.
You went through a lot. My background, I was a pharmaceutical rep. My husband’s a physician. How’s the MS? Have you managed that and what did you learn from that?
That might be another show. You’re going to get all of these audience going, “How did she do it?” I’ll abbreviate that to you. I do have a health background. As a certified holistic nutritionist, I studied homeopathy out a program out of the University of Toronto. I started the natural route: acupuncture, homeopathy, changing my diet. I was doing intermittent fasting back in 2003 before anyone had heard of it. Chelation, all of it. I managed. I ran all the six Boston Marathons after the diagnosis. I gave up my Pro Iron Man career. I did the Iron Man after the diagnosis and finished eighth in the pro division with a fractured pelvis. I’m just tough. That’s a whole other story.
I’ve done a lot of holistic things and I’m doing really well. In fact, I basically have no symptoms but it takes a lot of discipline. I have my vices. I like really good red wine. I like my black coffee. I don’t do gluten. I don’t do dairy. I take probably more vitamins in one day than a lot of people take in a week. I have an amazing care team. Shout out to Dr. Jing Liu who’s here in Scottsdale as well. She’s my acupuncture. Dr. Jain, he’s my Naturopath here in Scottsdale. I have an amazing care team. I plan in the future to do another Iron Man. I want to do ten Bostons. I’m doing an AI startup. It’s not my year to do Bostons or Iron Mans. You have to give up a lot of stuff in order to do that. I’m doing really great.
I have one doctor I had on the show who you might want to add to your list. I don’t know if you’ve met Dr. Trevor Berry. He does a lot of very unusual treatments. He’s out in Tempe. You have to listen to that show he was on. My husband was on that show. We did a whole medical episode. There are so many unique, different treatments out there. It’s always fascinating to me people who find that they have these devastating things, but then they find good ways to deal with it. It opens up new doors. You mentioned that you had this other passion for computers and different things that you like. I had alluded to earlier that you’ve finished a course at MIT on AI and machine learning. That’s completely different from everything else you’re talking about here. What got you into interested in that and what exactly did you cover in that course?
I was raised by a single dad who was an engineer. Back in the ‘70s, there weren’t a lot of kids being raised by single dads. Shout out to all those single dads out there. My dad was an engineer and he helped work on the team that did the Pacemaker and the microprocessor. By the ‘80s when video games started, I said, “Dad, I want a video game.” He said, “Code it yourself.” He handed me this computer. I was coding. In high school, he made me take typing and he said, “Susan, someday everyone’s going to have a computer.” By the time I went to university, I was passionate about health. I wanted to be a surgeon. I started working as a research assistant with someone who was working on facial recognition and quantification and early forms of algorithms. Part of my job was coding, essentially taking images which is what Facebook and Google and everyone do now and turning them into numbers. We did that and I became very passionate about it, but I put it down.
Then a few years ago as digital marketing’s growing, I got back into the tech world. That’s how I met Zach, our mutual friend. I was thinking about starting my own software company. Serendipitously, I walked out of a meeting with Zach and I ran into this guy. We ended up becoming friends. He’s doing an AI startup and they need someone on the business side. I fell in love with the project. I became the president of the company and I said, “I didn’t have any kind of building algorithms technology for so long.” I like to do immersion learning because at 46 I need to speed up time. I have five kids, I have a grandchild. I’ve just got to speed up time. I don’t have time to go and spend four years and technology changes so fast.What we choose to do now is going to impact generations to come. Click To Tweet
I looked around, found a certification course at MIT and I said, “I’m going to do this.” My husband was like, “You don’t have time to do that.” I said, “I will make time to do it.” Some weeks it was fifteen hours a week, sometimes just twelve, but I did it. Over the course of that, which I completed, it helped bring me up to speed in terms of what’s going on with AI, what’s going on with autonomous vehicles, all of it. My days are spent talking about edge processing, GPUs. Right here in Phoenix, there are a ton of technology and startups and things. It’s very invigorating. It’s a lot of fun.
I graduated at ASU. I can remember the day I had to program my calculus homework and basic. It was awful and it’s been a while. I sold computers in the early ‘80s. We sold as a value-added resale or whatever they were called back then with IBM. System 36 isn’t 38. It’s been a while.
I bought this book, Python Programming for Dummies over at Barnes & Noble. I have the book and now I finished the course. I don’t need to know how to program. I have to understand how we grow and scale a business. When we go into a meeting with a large multibillion-dollar company, I won’t say the names, but I have to know what we’re talking about. It’s been fun to be back in that world. I don’t know if I actually want to code again.
Technology changes so much. As soon as you learn something, you’d better start all over again if you’re not in it all the time. I’ll have to talk to you about that course off there because I love learning a lot of that. You finished taking the course. I thought you wrote the course, so you finished the course. You’re dealing with learning the ins and outs when you’re doing your consulting and all the things you do. Is that the main focus of what you do? I know you’ve written books. I was looking at some of your books, Organize Your Life, The Have It All Woman. Do you have any more books in you or are you working more on consulting? Where are you at this point?
I read a statistic that we’re going to pivot our career seven times. Radius focuses on real-time, frictionless offers in the AI space. We can actually follow people from camera to camera. That only happens in the movies, but we have different patents. Our guys should have done the math and written the algorithms that can do it. My intense focus is to help grow and scale this company. Oftentimes, it’s interesting because it will be me and twelve men in a meeting. I just flew to Silicon Valley with our Dev Team and we’re creating our customer interface because our goal with the company is to help create a better user experience. You go to Michael’s and they hand you the whole ream of coupons that you’re never going to use or you go to the mall and they’re like, “If you come back to Victoria’s Secret in two weeks, you can use this coupon.”
What we want to do is create real-time, frictionless offers where you don’t have to opt-in. There’s no beacon, we’re not storing your personal information. You’re getting what you want. As we’re growing the company, we have a Silicon Valley team, we have an office in Tempe. I became the president of the company and so it is my baby. I also own a digital marketing agency, but I have an amazing partner who runs that agency for me. In my day-to-day world, it’s a lot of techs, a lot of meetings. We’re even talking to some teams in the UK about where we can use this technology. My vision is to use artificial intelligence for good. There are a lot of things going on in the world, Diane, as you know. We’re at a very critical time right now I would say with AI. What we choose to do now is going to impact generations to come. There’s no question.
I wrote a brand publishing course for Forbes. A lot of the things that they offer, the coupons and all that stuff is to get the data, is to get you locked in. If you’re not doing it for that reason, what is it on your side that is the value? I’m sure people are wondering to know that.
We have this shared background, that’s why Zach wanted us to talk. I want everyone to imagine that right now, here’s the issue. There are privacy issues. There’s GDPR in the UK if you’re not familiar with that. It’s privacy laws, things on cameras, all sorts of things. In the UK, there are ten cameras for every individual. Then there are issues going on with the big social media companies, how much do they know about us. They know a lot about you. Google knows a ton about you. Facebook knows a ton about you there. Their AI, their algorithms are unbelievable. We started with a different hypothesis. Our CTO was previously chief data scientist for the largest privately held healthcare database in the world. Then we brought in Dave Hoffman who’s Forbes 30 Under 30. He’s one of the top data scientists in the world. We assembled this tech team and we started with a different hypothesis. What if we could create frictionless offers without storing people’s personal information? Everyone who comes on our camera, we create a fourteen-digit unique identifier. We don’t know it’s Diane. We just know you’re number 8512 or whatever.
The first time you come on our camera, we don’t even have to get your face on. You can be sideways. We’re going to take a look at what you’re wearing. We’re going to take a look your age, your gender, where you are. Our accuracy is ridiculously good. A lot of people are doing age, gender but ours is amazing. We’re going to take a look at your sentiment. What mood are you in? Is it a positive mood, negative mood, neutral mood? Then we’re going to bring in external factors, the weather, the time of day. Let’s say you’re in Phoenix. Is there a sporting event going on? We’re going to look at all of that and we’re going to offer you something based on that. If you accept the offer, you now go in. Our vertical is actually in the gas station convenience store space because $0.90 of every dollar spent in the US is at a convenience store. Only 30% of people approximately go from the pump to the store.
For an average say mid-size gas station that does anywhere from about $10,000 a day upward in the non-gas items, if we can increase foot traffic by even 5% into the store, we will increase that store owner’s gross revenue by $500,000. There are 177,000 gas station convenience stores in the US. We’re starting with the vertical because a lot of startups try and diversify too much. We have other people going, “Can you use this technology for this? Can you use it for security?” Yes, we can use it for all of those things but we’re very focused on what it is we’re doing. As a result of this, we’ve attracted some amazing strategic partners because they’re like, “If you can do it for this, you can do it for Target.” Yes, we can do it in all of those verticals. Can we use it in security? The answer is yes, but we’re starting here because it’s more of a blue ocean.If you want to pivot, pivot and immerse yourself, learn what you need to learn, and go for it. Click To Tweet
I’m envisioning Sixth Day with Schwarzenegger and Minority Report with Tom Cruise. My husband usually gets the gas in the car for some reason. I hadn’t been in a gas station in a while. I’m thinking these video things that were so loud, it reminds me of Vegas where you’re in the taxi cabs and you’re yelling at these things at you. I almost wanted to go into the store to get away from the sound of whatever was coming out of the machines there. How are you going to get people into the store? Is it the offers that it’s telling them? I wanted a little more on that. That fascinates me.
California is doing their version of a GDPR too. There are so many moving parts with us. I was with our Silicon Valley team, one of our team, Jeff Kirschner, he was ten years in GoDaddy. We have this amazing team. It’s incredible. I was with the team and we were looking at how will we create consumer engagement. We are going to do it through gamification, but not with the Vegas-style lights and things that are agitating. We can program time of day and sentiment, what that user sees. Let me give you an example. Let’s say it’s 3:00 in the afternoon. You come on camera and it’s 100 degrees. You are in yoga clothes and you’re there pumping your gas. We might offer you trivia. You don’t have to opt-in, you don’t have to give your email, you don’t have to give anything. You would have a suite of trivia. You can play ‘80s Trivia, science and technology, whatever you want. That’s what we might offer you. If it’s the morning and it’s frantic, we might offer you some other kinds of interface. That’s what we’re working on now. Then we’re going to split test.
We like the gamification idea because ultimately at the end of the day, and I’m so grateful for my health background, is that people want the fundamental feeling of fulfillment. They want achievement, they want appreciation. As you know there are different neurochemicals, we secrete dopamine, serotonin and so on, that all help us to achieve those things. When I’m looking at our customer interface and I’m looking at the different ways we can stimulate those hormones for feelings of gratification, that’s one of the ways, having something fulfilling. We also want it to be very PG. We recognize that sometimes people have their kids with them. We want to create something that is extremely user-friendly. Let’s say you start on trivia path. We will flash an offer for you before we flash your score. That’s one way we’re working on it, but we are going to split test. The big thing we’re looking for is pilot partners in Phoenix. We have a pilot partner in Orange County, which is amazing. They’ve been incredible. We’re looking for pilots here in Phoenix. That’s where we’re at right now. By the end of Q2, we will have proven our concept and then going to revenue and scaling and channel partners as we go into Q3.
You mentioned Jeff Kirschner. Is that the Jeff Kirschner from Litterati or is it a different one?
It’s a different one.
I had Jeff Kirschner from Litterati on my show. That’s small world names. It sounds like you’ve got an amazing team and you mentioned how you were in a room full of all the men and going to the meeting. I know a lot of people are interested in this subject, so I wanted to touch on this. What do you think about how we could get more women into technology?
I want to give a shout out to Christine Jones. Christine is a friend of mine. She was that woman in the room growing GoDaddy back in the day. I said to her once the exact same question, Diane, “Why don’t you think there are more women in tech and what is it like to be the only woman in the room?” I feel like you asked me about my next book. That might be the next book, The Other Woman in the Room. It’s how we’re educating kids. One of my girls is 22 and she embraces technology. It’s not a big deal. The generation before her, coding was something that was optional in schools. Now it’s more embraced. It is not like boys do code or boys do LEGO robotics. Even you mentioned ASU. ASU has a sold-out summer camp. If you’re from ASU, my kid is on the waiting list, my nine years old. It’s LEGO robotics for girls.
We’re starting to see more inclusion. We’re starting to see more programs where girls can code or girls can do robotics. It’s a different thing. It’s going to take some time for women in their 40s who maybe haven’t got a Computer Science degree or haven’t been coding or haven’t been in that world, it can be intimidating. My final message I want to leave everyone with is it’s never too late to pivot. If anyone wants to reach out to me on LinkedIn and ask me questions, I’m signed up for their mentor program. I’m happy to answer. The most frequent question I get asked on LinkedIn is, “How do I pivot?”
On my blog, SusanSly.com, I have a whole blog on how to pivot. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can always pivot. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 70s, 80s. One of my mentors in his 90s, Harvey Mackay is one of my personal mentors. He’s in his 80s. He’s still doing half marathons for goodness sake. He’s incredible. You can always pivot. If you want to pivot, pivot and immerse yourself, learn what you need to learn. My message to all of my sisters out there, all the women, it doesn’t matter about being a woman in tech. Be your badass self and pivot and immerse yourself and learn what you need to learn and go for it.
You were talking about Christine Jones. I had Marianne Guenther from GoDaddy on the show. You named some really amazing people. It sounds like we know a lot of the same people. It’s a small town when you are in Phoenix. It’s so nice of you to share your story. You’re fun to talk to. I could see why we definitely needed to meet. Zach wasn’t kidding when he said that we have a lot to talk about. Thank you so much for doing the show. It was so fun to have you on.
Thank you for having me, Diane. To all of the audience, I wish everyone if you want to ask me questions, just hit me up on LinkedIn or anywhere on social. I respond to all my own social. That’s a whole labor of love. I will get back to you, I promise.
Thanks, Susan. It was so nice.
I would like to thank both Elay and Susan for both being my guests. We get so many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com. If you like more information on Cracking the Curiosity Code or the Curiosity Code Index, you can go to CuriosityCode.com. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us with the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Enablement Mastery
- Parker Harris
- Arthur Do’s LinkedIn
- Keith Krach – previous episode
- Elay Cohen on LinkedIn
- Enablement Mastery on Amazon
- @ElayCohen on Twitter
- Susan Sly
- Think and Grow Rich
- The Alchemist
- Dr. Jing Liu
- Dr. Jain
- Dr. Trevor Berry – previous episode
- Python Programming for Dummies
- Organize Your Life
- The Have It All Woman
- Susan Sly on LinkedIn
- Harvey Mackay
- Marianne Guenther – previous episode
- Barry Rhein
- Jeff Kirschner – previous episode
About Elay Cohen
Elay Cohen is the CEO and Co-founder of SalesHood. He is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Elay was recognized as the “2011 Top Executive” by Marc Benioff and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce’s sales training and coaching programs that accelerated its growth from a 500 million-dollar business to an enterprise worth more than 3 billion dollars. The innovative sales training and support delivered over these years by Elay’s team to thousands of sales professionals resulted in unprecedented hyper-growth.
About Susan Sly
Susan Sly is a best-selling author, speaker, trainer, NLP Certified Coach, Certified Trauma Relief Specialist, and entrepreneur. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television, The CBN, The Morning Show in Australia and been quoted in Forbes Magazine Online. Susan is the author of 7 books. Her book project with NY Times Best Selling Author, Jack Canfield, made six Amazon Best Selling lists.