🚀 Breathe.



"You need to be able to balance relationships and results. Because if you only focus on results, you'll burn relationships and bridges that will make it harder to drive those results."

In this episode

In episode #61, Ryan Bonnici shares why managers should show and tell their teams what their expectations are and how to balance relationships with results.

Ryan has led teams at companies like Microsoft, Salesforce, Hubspot, G2, and now… Whereby

In this episode, Ryan discusses delivering specific feedback and his best practices to scale teams through delegation and autonomy

Tune in to hear all about Ryan’s technique for inbound recruiting… and he even gives us an overview of Whereby’s meeting habits.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Ryan’s most (and least) memorable managers


Balancing relationships and results


Identifying trends and delivering feedback for correction


Sleeping on your creative ideas


Driving risk-taking and innovation in your marketing teams


Inbound recruiting


Engagement, emojis and meetings



Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  00:00

Ryan, welcome to the show. 

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  00:02

Hey, thanks so much for having me. 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  00:04

Yeah, it’s, it’s really good to connect with you. There’s a lot that we’re gonna dive into today. I know you’ve obviously worked at a bunch of different companies, you’ve been at GE, to Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft, I feel like I listed out all the tech brand names. But one of the things and obviously today you’re cmo at whereby, and we’re going to talk a lot about that, because you’re in the meeting space. We care a lot about meetings. So we’re going to talk more about that. But one of the things I wanted to start off with was, you actually knew since you were 10 years old, that you want it to be a CMO. Like how did that happen? How does a 10-year-old even know what a CMO is? 

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  00:43

Yeah, it’s really weird. I get asked about this a lot. And I still don’t fully know where it came from. No one in my family or close family or like, even family friends was in marketing or advertising. So I don’t know where it came from. But my hunch is that it had something to do with just like advertising and seeing ads and just being drawn to them as a kid, I think. Yeah, like I really felt it fell in love with the whole, like mad men era of marketing and advertising. In terms of just like the pitching and the creativity. Yeah, it was weird. I, it wasn’t just like, knowing that I wanted to be a CMO at 10 ish. It was like, knowing that I wanted to be a CMO by the age of 30. It was so oddly specific, I am like a really weird person at manifestation. And I’ve only learned that word recently. I didn’t know it was a thing. But it turns out like I am someone that does like manifestation and just didn’t know was the thing. I always thought of it as just dreaming big. And yeah, turns out that like, I vividly remember the age of 10. My mom told me this recently that on my wall in my bedroom, I had a sign that said, like, I will be a millionaire by the time it was like, I’ll be a CMO by 30. And I have like, five things on it. And really, I think most of them have happened now. I’ve One of them was I was going to climb Everest, though. I don’t know how realistic that is. Nor if I wonder that these days. But yeah, but I’m a weird person in that sense.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  02:18

Yeah, I think that’s a really great start, because I think it’s gonna set the stage for a bunch of other questions we’re gonna ask and so, you know, one of the things then, you know, that we always ask our guests is, have you had a favorite or most memorable manager in your career? And I guess, like as a, as a second part to that question. I’m gonna, I’m gonna say like, how did they help you become the CMO? And like, go go on that path.

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  02:45

Yeah, so I definitely do have a few memorable ones, really, I mean, one of the most memorable probably in most maybe important bosses and CMOS for me, it was Kipp Bodnar, CMO at HubSpot. And I think with a Kip was just I mean, a he’s just the loveliest human in the world, and incredibly knowledgeable about so many things, whether it’s wine, or art, or Japanese knife making, like just, he just like obsesses over the details. And I think I was able to watch how he led teams and I learned a lot from him. And I even like really vividly remember, actually, this one time, I was so grateful to have him as a manager. And I sent him an email about something I can’t remember what it was, I think I might’ve been a campaign I was pitching or maybe like I was giving constructive feedback or something I can’t remember like the content of my email. But I just so vividly, it’s literally etched into my memory there, his reply, and basically like, Hey, Ryan, thank you for your email, I would have appreciated it, I would have loved it if you send if you had asked me this question this way. And he literally like rewarded my email in like, a more constructive way. And then proceeded to answer that question. And it was like the first time I think so many managers kind of managed by telling, and he really managed by telling and then showing slash doing, like what he wanted me to do, and it was something that just stuck with me ever since then. And so if I see if someone on my team writes an email to me, to you know, an all-hands email or to a company or to our database, or they do something anyways, I try to be really specific in my feedback, and then help them see how I would have gone about doing it differently. And so yeah, he just always challenged me and I felt like I grew a lot from him. And then yeah, my, my cmo exact target. So going back a long time now maybe almost a decade. I think, law I just learned a lot from him in terms of dreaming big and being incredibly creative, and just Not doing the status quo. Like I felt like I feel like the term in marketing so overused that I cannot stand is like best practice. And like give it to the best practice. That means it’s like a boring practice and everyone does it and everyone does it, it’s not going to cut through with an audience. And so not to say you shouldn’t do those things. But that’s just not going to be enough. So, yeah, they’re probably to Tim Kopp, ExactTarget, and Kip Bodnar at HubSpot. And I have had a really horrible manager too, that I went to the name of what a company have, but where I think they really went wrong was they would give them really, really harsh feedback. But never kind of like help you, they just kind of criticize and then not help you understand how to solve the problem, or how to do the thing better. And that was very early on in my career, and it was really hard to learn and grow. And so I try really hard every day to not be that kind of a manager that just kind of cracks the word, but then doesn’t give context or help.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  05:57

Yeah, I think that sets the stage really well. And so it sounds like you started to lead a team pretty early on in your career. So you must have had some mistakes along the way. So what was something that I guess you started out doing that you later on, stop doing?

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  06:14

I mean, gosh, there’s so many things, I feel like I can like write a book about this, um, I made so many mistakes along the way, I think really early on what I struggled with was so i think i first started managing people, maybe when I was about 23, or something like that, which was like no management experience. And then within like, a few years, maybe by like 23, or 30. By 2425, I think it was managing about 20 people. And again, zero experience, just like on the job learning. And my main manager was actually overseas in the US, because I’ve always worked for us, help HQ companies. And so not only it was their first-time manager, but I also wasn’t being managed closely by them, because they were remotely. And they were an amazing manager that I wasn’t able to kind of see how they work day to day, because they connected once a week. And in terms of like big mistakes, I think there was a few I mean, I think, you know, one of them for me was definitely being really scattered my team and being focused and sharing every single idea that I have. And, and I’m a really creative person. And so I have lots of ideas. And I think early on, I learned quite quickly that sharing every idea I have doesn’t really help your team, it just kind of pulls them in a lot of different directions. And so I have a bit of a thing. Now, it’s not like a hard and fast rule necessarily. But if I have a bit of a crazy idea or or something, I’ll just sleep on it. And then if the next day, I still think it’s a crazy, great idea, then I will like, package it up and share it with the right person versus just kind of like stream of consciousness. So that’s, that’s probably one big one. And another big lesson that I learned was feedback that I’ve gotten from a lot of teams. And when I’ve done 360s Is that something that I can do, which is a bit of a strength, but then you know, is also a weaknesses that I can kind of I can do high level strategy, but then I can really quickly get into the weeds and I can kind of traverse the two very quickly. I guess I would say that I’m not one of those CMOS is just like in the clouds on strategy, I’ve really liked to be able to execute and get in the weeds and feedback that I’ve received in the past that like is that that skill set is quite unusual slash unique. And it can also be quite difficult for your team members. If they can’t traverse high level and then into the weeds with you. They may need like more context and or you know more time to kind of get there where you’re going. So that’s probably a pretty big one. I mean, I think a pretty standard one for me was just like not adjusting my style. And just assuming that whatever style works for me that I liked being managed in worked for everyone on my team. And I think now I’ve learned just from trial and error that everyone’s different. Everyone likes to be managed differently. Some people like to shoot the shit for like 15 minutes in a one-on-one before getting into the meat of it. Whereas other people just want to get straight into, you know, the specifics. And so just kind of letting my team actually lead one on ones is really kind of something that I have gotten a lot of benefit out over the last few years. And I think probably the last thing and the most important thing that I learned over the years was just learning very early on for me in my career, I really over-indexed on results. And so by results, I mean you know, focusing on driving impact driving revenue, driving numbers, at the expense of relationships, and I was really fortunate When I was at HubSpot to get a weekly executive coach, who kind of helped me better understand this idea of like, you need to be able to balance relationships and results. Because if you just focus on results, you’ll burn relationships, and you’ll burn bridges that will make it harder to drive those results. Long term. So really kind of learning to balance relationships and results has been something that I think if anything, has been the most pivotal learning and mistake for me.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  10:28

Yeah, I mean, there’s so much to unpack there. I feel like I want to unpack all of these. But let’s start with the one that you just said was the most pivotal. That’s a really tough one, right? Because so maybe we can dig in a bit further. I mean, are you basically saying that, you know, you should prioritize relationships over results? Or how do you figure out the fine balance? 

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  10:49

It’s quite even, I think that you need like, you need to focus on both for them. And I think the idea is, I haven’t given this as much thought as I would like. But I think the rationale, the way I’ve kind of understood it is that focusing on results is great in the short term, yeah. But as a manager, as a leader, you can’t do everything. Yeah, you can’t be the person to send every email to write every tweet to, you know, be on every sales call to write every sales deck. And if you truly want to grow your ability to scale your team and your business, you need to be able to delegate. And so I think it has a little bit more to do actually underneath it with like delegation, and with autonomy. And I think that’s the key piece there, right. So if you focus, if you balance relationships and results, you are at the same time while driving results, building relationships, teaching your team giving constructive feedback in a helpful way, such that they then can drive those results for you at the end of the day. But I think for me, that’s really like the crux of the importance there. And I think that’s just a classic mistake where whatever you want to call it, I think that’s just a classic mistake that many managers make is that, typically, and this is, I guess, a bit of a systemic problem in the way you become a manager is that typically, people that get promoted into managers are high performing individual contributors. Yeah. And so what made you a great high-performing individual contributor I see is typically not what makes you a good manager, right. So like, what made me a great IC was that I was willing to just work all hours work on the weekends, not because I felt like I had to I was just obsessed with it, and I loved what I did. And that doesn’t translate very well, when you’re managing people, you can’t force them to do that. Nor can you do that. yourself. So I think that’s, that’s kind of what’s underneath that for me.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  12:50

Yeah, so that’s really interesting. So like, let’s, you know, if we were to have an example. So if you, for example, see some copy that’s written, you could probably jump in and, you know, what, say your standard of, you know, a copy should be rather than going in the short term and making it that you want to invest in the relationship and, and the person should that over time, like, they can actually do those things on their own, even without your involvement.

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  13:18

100% Yeah, like, that’s a good example of, you know, I’ve even remember. And, you know, like, I’m, let me put a big fat disclaimer to say that I done, I don’t practice all the things that I’m talking about perfectly. And, you know, I can even think of a few years ago where sometimes, like, if I wanted to change a headline of a blog post, I would just go into HubSpot and change the blog posts headline, and then that would be a like, surprising to the content team. B, they would feel like their work wasn’t good and that I didn’t like it. And then see, like, they’re not learning from the experience. And so that’s such a hard one to get good at, or to control because it is going to be faster to get to the end product in the short term in that the headline will now be the way you think it should be. But again, you’re not teaching people how to do that themselves. And so eventually, that system will break. So I think that’s, uh, you kind of, kind of set that up for me. But that is a really clear example of something that I used to do all the time. And it wasn’t on the team sat me down and said, Hey, the team gets a little bit like, scared when you do that, because they feel like now you think their work isn’t good. And can we build a process? And I was like, Yes, thanks so much for telling me I didn’t even think about I didn’t even know they would realize I changed to words, but people do notice those things. So that was a really blessing.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  14:42

And I mean, getting a little bit tactical here. But so what is a better way to do it say you see a headline and like, you know exactly what it should be? What do you what is the right thing to do? 

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  14:55

Yeah, what I’ve started to do now what I try and do now is Um, as I notice things right like, so I’m always consuming, you know, the company that I work for social media content, their blog content, etc, I just keep an open dock open, essentially, I use a tool called Rome research I love. And I basically like if I see a tweet, or if I see anything really that I feel like could have been better, I’ll just link I’ll keep a link to it. And then later on in the day, or in the week, for example, once a few things on things, if I’m seeing a trend in something, then I will kind of like, package it up and share with the person who’s responsible for that thing. So if I see, this isn’t a real example, but just to get the kind of articulate the point is, like, if I see us posting lots of tweets, you know, without images attached, or without video, as I might like, take them down, and then reach out to me and say, Hey, I noticed a few of these tweets, like didn’t have an image. You know, I think, you know, I know as a team, we’ve done we’ve tested this and images help with engagement on social? Can you help me like understand why we didn’t add them. And there might be a reason if there is then great glad that I didn’t kind of like delete them and rewrite them. And maybe they’ll say that actually, but we were running behind didn’t have visuals. And then if they didn’t have visuals, or enough kind of creative options, then I realized, well, the problem isn’t the person tweeting the person is like, the problem is there’s a bottleneck in our design function on the team. And so how do I help open that up so that people have more access to the designers? So yeah, it could be like, it depends, I guess, on the kind of size of the thing that I notice in terms of whether I just noted down and talk about it with the person in a future one on one, or if it’s, like really urgent and needs to be addressed right now.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  16:47

Yeah, no, I think that adds a lot of clarity. The other thing that you said that one kind of hit home for me, because I also consider myself a creative person that has, you know, mile a minute type ideas. And I have also noticed that it’s not productive to share all those things. You know, at the same time, I like your method of sleep on it. And if you still feel that, it, it’s a great idea. 

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  17:10

The most depressing part of this Aydin is that 90% of my amazing ideas absolutely suck the next day. I think I’m just an energetic, excited person. So when I have an idea, I trick myself, I think sometimes into thinking is better than it is. And then once I sleep, and I’m like, yeah, that’s nothing special. And then so yeah, only 10% of those things will ever maybe make it to my team.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  17:37

So one question that I have is that is kind of related is, you know, marketing is such a creative sport. And a lot of it is about having ideas and unique insights and, and trying to do things. What do you think about the concept of like, idea generation, and you know, how much of it say comes from you, as a leader, and how much of it comes from the team. And just going back to your original example, say, like, you have an idea, and from experience, you know, this is, you know, say a great idea, and he slept on it, and the next day, it’s a great idea. But the team kind of, you know, and giving the ability to the team to also generate their own ideas and execute and even if it’s not the best idea, but learning by doing, you know, running things that will end up, you know, say not being as great, but you know, they can learn from that.

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  18:29

Yeah, such a good question. Doc Sass interviewed me for a podcast this morning and one of the things we were talking about on the Sass podcast was just about that, like, how do you drive innovation and creativity and risk-taking and ideation in your marketing teams. And the reason where it came from was just this idea that whenever I speak to CMOS, one of the biggest questions that like CMOS will ask me is, you know, how do you get your teams to be so creative, you know, I want my team to come up to me with these ideas. Like, I don’t want to be the person having to have all the ideas and it’s happening, more and more that made me sort of reflect on it more recently, and think about that a little bit. And I think early on in my career, it was very much like I was the idea generator, which and I don’t say that in like a self like, grand Ising way, because like, that doesn’t scale. But yeah, I think early on, for me, at least, like I that was just the way I thought that’s the way my brain operates and just thinks bigger, better. How do we like blow something out of the water. And it wasn’t thanks for doing lots and lots and lots of therapy that I’ve kind of gotten to the roots of that. And the TLDR is like I was bullied really badly as a kid. And so I had low self-esteem and I’ve worked on that and so for me the way like I got self-esteem, which was an inner thing. I was through, you know, work and through being you know, getting Praise at work, essentially, it was kind of like how I felt like I was valuable. And so here, I just wanted to share that limited context, because I’m a big fan of mental health. But I think for me, it really comes down to like starting at the top and showing people how you do it, and how you think about it. And then setting up incentives or processes that help them see that that’s what you want to see from them. So, you know, at GE two, as the marketing team got bigger, we would do monthly Carnival, it was called exactly what it was essentially, like a monthly Marketing Show Intel, I think what’s called an innovate innovation meeting or something. And basically, every month, the different teams and marketing would pitch their most innovative ideas and the things that they would like to do and the things that they adjusted on. And the most innovative ones would then get to present to the whole marketing team. And the reason why I said that up was because like, I wanted people to be able to see that like, well, if you drive innovation, if you do innovative things, if you’re creative, if you take risks, even if they don’t work out, we praise that like that’s what I want to see. And so by me setting that up, and by me praising these things, I wanted to kind of like create a culture ultimately where people could see that. Okay, cool. If I want to get noticed by my boss’s boss, my boss’s boss’s boss, this is the way to do it. And that naturally then aligned with my own incentives, because I need the team to be thinking outside the box and doing creative things. So we’re not just doing best practices, as I mentioned before, but we’re doing more than that. So, you know, I think I think you have to do it, I think you have to speak to your directors about it regularly. And often, what are they excited about the team is working on? Where’s that team innovating? I think part of it is also just as a CMO or as a manager, you need to be a massive consumer of whatever the art or the science is that your team is doing. Right. So for example, you know, I’m like avid on social life, subscribe to lots of different emails, like I’m a massive consumer of content. And whenever I see something that catches my eye, whether it’s on email, or Netflix or anything, I’ll screenshot it and then share it with someone on my team that is responsible for that function. Whereby, and my goal there is to help them kind of see the way I think and help them see the way that I capture ideas just from walking out and about. By doing so I’m hoping that they see like, wow, okay, there’s, there’s so many ideas out there in the wild, if you just kind of like, for a nanosecond, notice what you are noticing, it’s such a meta thing to say but like, if you notice what you are noticing or where your attention is going, you can start to reverse engineer how it caught your attention. You know, so like, I hate Tiktok for example. But I love going on there to learn how to capture someone’s attention really quickly, so that I can then pass those learnings along to my team. That’s, that’s, I think, how I think of it, I guess, ultimately, and just keep, you know, like raising the bar.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  23:08

Yeah. And I like what you said, it seems like, you know, earlier in your career, you started by, like, the thing that you were optimizing for was making sure that you can generate ideas that are good ideas. But then as you grow much more senior,  you’re more excited about, you know, those ideas and the system that continues to generate ideas, even while you sleep, almost

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  23:28

I think that’s a good way to think of it. And, you know, I think I’ve just thought of this right now, actually. But I think part of it too, for me was also, I think earlier on in your career, or at least for me in my career, you know, I was still making a name for myself, like I was still moving up the ranks and getting promoted. And I think a big part of like, what drove me to be innovative and to try and drive results and to obsess over results instead of relationships was that I felt like that was the only way to get noticed so that I would get promoted. And it worked, which you know, I’m happy about but I think it worked at a cost. And it wasn’t until I became more senior that I realized, wow, I probably could have gotten here in a different way. And in a way that maybe was more productive, perhaps or more inclusive, or more helpful to those around me,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  24:18

It really shifts. It’s just going back to what you said earlier, which is going from the short term to a longer-term focus. That seems to be a pattern. [ AD BREAK BEGINS] Hey there before moving to the next part of the interview, quick introduction to tell you about one of the internet’s best-kept secrets, the manager TLDR newsletter. So every two weeks, we read the best content out there, the greatest articles, the advice, the case studies, whatever the latest and greatest is, we summarize it and we send it to your inbox. We know you don’t have the time to read everything. But because we’re doing the work. we’ll summarize it and send it to your inbox once every two weeks and the best news It’s a completely free show, go on over to fellow dot app slash newsletter and sign up today. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview.[AD BREK ENDS]  In marketing, you can’t help but also talk about inbound marketing. But I don’t know if you’ve coined it, but I really like the phrase inbound recruiting, which also sounds like a long term, not maybe shorter term kind of approach. I’d love for you to explain,  what is inbound recruiting?

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  25:29

Yeah, so I didn’t talk about this at a Summit, in Singapore was like a global HR summit. And it was basically this idea that came from HubSpot, where you know, old school recruiting and so I’m, firstly, let me say like, I’m not responsible for the term. But I just did a talk on it. And it was decided that like old school, outbound recruiting is like posting to job boards, right. And the problem with posting only to job boards, is you’re only getting in front of active candidates. These are people that are actively looking and the reality is a cutting over the stats from my presentation. I think if if someone searched on Google, like Ryan Bonnici Hr summit, they would find it or inbound recruiting, because I uploaded the talk, but I think it was like two-thirds of people are passive, right. So two-thirds of people are just in their jobs, they’re happy. And they’re the candidates you really want, like the people that are happy doing a great job, or who you want to attract to your team. And so this idea of inbound recruiting was by creating content that your ideal employee or ideal team member is looking for, is the best way to attract those passive candidates. So an example would be you know, if you’re trying to attract if you’re trying to hire new managers, for example, or you know, if you’re trying to hire like yet Junior managers, you might create content on your, your company culture blog that’s around the topic of how to run a good one on one. Yeah, because the only person that’s searching for how to run a good one-on-one is a manager. Yeah. So if you need to hire managers really quickly, then create content that they go to Google and they search for similarly, if you’re trying to hire a, you know, a marketing operations or marketing or cmo, you might be creating content around, you know how to manage a marketing budget, right? Like a marketing budget is something that probably a marketing manager isn’t looking forward, a marketing director is now you know, it’s it’s a long burn process, though, right. But if you do it over time, and build it up, similar to inbound marketing, it builds, you know, a sustainable funnel of candidates coming into you. And the thing that I also really love about it is people that are looking for that are people that you want to have on your team, because of the fact that they have people that, you know, there’s nothing worse than someone on a team that like they have a question and they post it in slack when I could have gone to Google and searched it. You know, like, why interrupt everyone else’s, you know, day and ask a question that Google can answer for you. And so by creating content that helps pull in candidates that might be looking for jobs, you’re attracting candidates that are self-thought starters, by definition, because they have found your content because they were looking for it proactively.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  28:20

Yeah, it’s I mean, it’s very, I mean, reminds me exactly of like inbound and outbound marketing, or like paid marketing. You could go get the clicks on Google and pay for it. But the real moat is in SEO? And it seems like this is Yeah, exact same thing. Absolutely. So another thing I mean, just on the topic of recruiting, since we’re talking about recruiting, is it true that you actually encourage people on your team to go get outside offers from other companies?

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  28:52

Yes, I wrote an article I think it was in Harvard, or it might have been World Economic Forum about this. And it wasn’t so much I think the editor at HBr or wherever it was, and they have taken some like creative license with like the title… 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  29:06

They went in and change the title without telling you?

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  29:11

which, which is their right, given it’s their publication. And I was just a guest contributor, but it was a little bit clickbaity, maybe. But no, the essence is still the is accurate. It’s more just that like, I, I encourage my team if recruiters reach out to them, and they’re interested in chatting to them, they should chat to them. And I think my philosophy is a that’s what I’ve always done in my career. And it’s helped me it’s helped me know my worth. Yeah. And so had I have not accepted recruiters as telephone calls or LinkedIn in males, you know, I wouldn’t have early on in my career realized that I was, you know, doing the same job as someone else. And I was getting significantly underpaid. And it was because I was like, 10 years younger than this person. And by realizing that I was delivering the same results as someone that was more Senior to me in age but was doing the same job, it helped me get, you know, my first really big promotion, and a really big pay bump. And so I started to kind of, I guess, just value this idea of knowing your worth one, I think I wrote about this in that article. But, you know, I, when I talk to my team about this, like I say to them, the, the thing you need to be aware of though is if you do get, you know, a job offer from another company, it’s more money before you come to the company and say, and use it as a bargaining chip, like be ready for the fact that they may not play ball, and they may say, cool, you should go and take that like Peace out. And so I think, you know, it’s, it’s only something that you want to use, like, if you want to stay at the company that you’re at, and you want to use this to help the company realize that what they have in you is something that they don’t want to lose. Yeah. So like that example that I gave, you know, I said, you know, I’ve gotten these offers, when these other companies, they’re paying me this much more, which is the same as what my counterpart is being paid for doing the same job that I’m doing, but I’m getting less because I’m younger, I don’t want to leave. But, you know, I can’t turn down this much money and this much responsibility. And then over the weekend, my VP was able to make things happen, and, you know, get me a stock grant and a really quick increase in pay and a promotion. And, you know, but that could have gone a different way. Right? They could have said, hey, look, I think it’s a great offer, you should take it like, and if I didn’t take it, then I don’t know how successful I would have been at that company at I state. So yeah, I definitely do encourage my team to do that just so that they can know really what they’re worth on the market. And also, I think it’s just important for them to know, like, Is there a job that they may learn more in or be happier in? Because they made me the company in a team that they interview with that they feel like wow, like, I’m going to learn a lot, I’m going to be able to give a lot. This is right for me. And, like I want them to be as happy as they can be. And I want them to be as challenged as they can be. And you know, vice versa, if they came back and said, Hey, I love working with you, I love that I’m currently at with you. But this other company is offering me a broader role, like, how would I if I were to stay? How could I get a broader role at your company at the company I’m currently at and then I would work with them on what that would look like what they would need to do to get there. So I think it is a it’s a really good dialogue with your employees where they know that you genuinely care about them and their development.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  32:32

Yeah, I think I think that’s a very good point around, you know, obviously, like really caring about the employee their development, they can understand like, what broader responsibilities there may be. And ultimately, I think, you know, at the end of the day, if people are happy, and they’re looking to grow, it’s always it’s always useful to know, you know, what else exists. So you can also be ambitious to do those things, even you know where you’re at. So I think the, like the general awareness is, is something that just makes sense.

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  33:02

It also, Aydin, forces a feedback conversation, right? So let’s say the person comes to you, and they say, and they say what I just said, you said, Hey, I love working with you. But the truth is, and hopefully, you know, this wouldn’t be the case for me, because I give a lot of feedback often, I hope. But if a lot of managers don’t, right, it’s like a common thing that you hear from employees. And I think, you know, you could use that opportunity to help raise that person’s levels of awareness to their own skills and their own areas for development, right. So if they came to you, and they said that you didn’t say, Hey, I will, we would love to hold on to you. But the reality is, you know, while you may get more money there, we think what you could get at this company is still also really good. And, you know, these are some areas that if you were to get that here you would need to work on. And so if they do really want to stay there, then at least it forces you to have that conversation where you’re having to now tell them why you wouldn’t promote them to the level or pay them the pay that they want. And, again, I don’t think that should be the only time you get feedback, right? That’s like definitely not what I’m promoting you. But it just forces that transparent conversation with your team,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  34:12

You know, at the end of the day, investing in in your team’s growth in all the different ways including like career growth, makes a lot of sense. And one thing that I really wanted to make sure that we had time to speak about, you know, given what Whereby does, given that you have been a remote company for a long time, even before the pandemic I think we’d love to know, like some of the learnings that you’ve had maybe with your team, on some best practices, especially as it, as it relates to meetings, are just some of the practices that you’ve had that has really made remote work. work well for you.

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  34:54

Yeah, this is definitely my first job where it’s been entirely remote from the start. I’ve never met any of my colleagues, except for a few people that I’ve more recently hired to my team who I had worked with at previous companies. And, you know, I think there’s a few I mean, and this is part of actually why I joined whereby in the first place was that, you know, last year during the pandemic jeetu, you know, we were using zoom and and then use zoom for probably five years place, and never had any issues with it. But I just never enjoyed using zoom, I always found it clunky and just not easy to use and not user intuitive. And part of what I loved about way by was just the simplicity of it, and the design and the UX. And it’s just a very thoughtful product that kind of works out what you’re trying to use it for, and adjusts automatically. And so I think, you know, I can’t take credit for this. But one thing that the whereby a team does is is in terms of how they use whereby well is that when we’re doing like all hands on big company meetings, were super active with regard to using reactions, and emojis and, and I don’t think that no other video tool that I’ve seen does, and the way we do that, whereby so when, when you’re like a big meeting, or even a small meeting, whoever is on video and unmuted kind of goes to this cultural stage. And then if you’re muted, you become kind of like a small box on the side on the bottom if it’s a beer meeting. And, and so when you’re doing a team meeting on all ends, or you’re presenting, and people respond live with emojis, and I just mean like, one here or there, I mean, like, you will just see these emojis flying in and you see where it came from, or the person that did it. Or if they chat, it doesn’t just go into kind of like a boring long chat, like the chat bubble shoots across the screen for everyone to see. And it’s weird. It’s such, it’s such a small thing, but it makes your meeting so much more inclusive, and gives everyone in the meeting of voice to be able to respond. And so instead of, I think whenever I’m on a zoom meeting, I never ever see anyone use the reactions other than maybe one here or there. Whereas it whereby I think it’s just because of the design of the product more so than anything, where we really kind of like use reactions and use emojis to kind of foams up things to celebrate wins, etc. and someone’s talking as a speaker as well, it’s nice, because you’re seeing all of these emojis skewed across the screen based on what you’re saying. So it gives you live feedback. So that’s it, that’s one of the things that I’ve found really useful. And weirdly, I find that when I’m in long meetings on whereby I don’t feel as fatigued, and we hear this from our customers, and if you go to, you know GE to where I previously worked, you know, whereby is rated the easiest to use video tool, you know, more much more highly than, than zoom even. And people talk about this like this, like zoom fatigue and how they don’t feel it on whereby because of the unique design, we also promote audio-only costs quite a bit at whereby so we’ll do a lot of calls for just, you know, Safari on our phones and just walk around with. So we were pretty heavy on audio to just because I don’t think it’s natural to stare at your face into someone else’s face for so long all the time with like, undivided eye contact. So we’re pretty good about audio-only calls, but I think they’re just a to a few of the things. But I think look, the biggest thing that I’ve learned in the last year more than anything is that meeting software, video conferencing tools aren’t the problem. The problem is the way we manage our calendar, as managers as employee, you know, whether you’re doing lots of meetings in our office or at home, very, very exhausting, nonetheless, like the reason they’re exhausting is because a you’re not building enough breaks for yourself enough buffer time to actually follow up on the action items from the past meeting, which obviously fellow does a great job of solving for. But then also it’s about like kind of pushing back on meetings that aren’t necessarily necessary. So if I get added to a meeting that doesn’t have an agenda, you know, eight out of 10 times, I was back to the person saying hey, can I get an agenda for this meeting so that I can prepare? And that, again, signals to my team that like you should prepare before you join a meeting? If you don’t need to prepare for a meeting? Do you really need to be there? Or should it really be a meeting? It probably shouldn’t, it should probably be a slack message or an email. So I think just kind of being really kind of particular about how many meetings you do blocking out time in your calendar, doing audio only calls making sure that all meetings have an agenda where needed as some of the things that we sort of just practice whereby given you know, we’ve been an entirely distributed and remote team from the start.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  39:51

Yeah, I think there are some really good tips and what I like about the reactions in particular, is it just makes it a more engaging experience, right. And like you said, in terms of like being inclusive, you could argue that, you know, actually not being in person and doing something remote through, you know, basically a tool like whereby is actually potentially even better, because it allows more people to actually have a voice during the meeting, which again, is harder to do if you don’t have the tools that allow you to do it. So I think Yeah, lots of really good tips there. I know we’re working coming up on time, Ryan. So one question that I wanted to kind of finish off on, and it’s a question that we ask all of our guests is for all the managers and leaders out there constantly looking to get better at their craft? What tips tricks, resources, or, you know, final words of wisdom? Would you want to leave them with?

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  40:48

Yeah, good question. I think it’s like a never-ending journey,  management and people management specifically, and leadership, I think for me, you know, and then just using my own example, and experience, I think where I’ve made the biggest progress, or the biggest strides as a manager and me, as a human have been from two things, it’s really been from executive coaching, which is obviously expensive, and not everyone can afford it most companies won’t pay for. So I don’t think that’s as necessarily I think the second one and maybe the more important one, not just for work, but for life is therapy, really, because I think so much of what makes you a good manager is knowing your patterns and knowing when you’re seeing something in someone else, it’s activating you or not activating new event. And so by just doing a lot of therapy over the years, I think that more than anything, actually is probably helped me be a better manager in line because I’ve learned about myself, I’ve learned about what I liked what I didn’t like, what bothers me, what doesn’t bother me. And so that’s just kind of, like raise my levels of awareness to, to just being crazily conscious when I am meeting with people. And when I am managing my team. And I think the executive coaching moreso helped me get like a language and a labeling way to speak about the stuff that I had learned in therapy or frameworks to kind of wrap what I was learning in a simpler way of thinking. So I think I would say, you know, yeah, executive coaching, and even just reading about it, right. Like, you don’t need to have an executive coach, right? Like, what’s his name, Bill Campbell, who coached you know, Google’s leadership team and many leadership teams, right. Like his book, I think it’s billion-dollar coach I read years ago, and absolutely like to valid that, like, so many good learnings in there. So I think just, you know, reading about other folks that are learning, you know, listening to podcasts like this. And I would say, even just documenting your own experiences, right, in the same way that you’ve mentioned, a few articles that I’ve written, you know, you don’t need to publish them on HBO necessarily, just publish them on LinkedIn, even on medium and just share your own experiences. Because I think the act of kind of encoding and encoding up what you’ve learned, what you’re seeing what you’re experiencing, and then documenting and editing that helps you actually refine your own views on things so that you will then do a better job at it in the future.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  43:17

Yeah, I think that’s great advice and a great place to end it. Ryan, thanks so much for doing this. 

Ryan Bonnici (Whereby)  43:23

Aydin, thanks so much for having me.

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