The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 7 months ago

Ep 193: Always Exercise Your Options w/ Ling Zhong

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ep 193: Always Exercise Your Options w/ Ling Zhong

Part of the "Is This A Good Time?" series hosted by Brandon Barton.

Look. Hello everyone, welcome back to the pavilion podcast. I am your host, brand of Bart and you're listening to, is this good time? The show where I put a billion members on the Hottie for fifteen minutes. They have incredible stories. A lot of fun shows are out every Thursday, says hit. Subscribe so you do not miss hearing from our experts. Our guest today is Ling Zong. She is a CMO invested and we talked about why start up and Flil. You should never leave options when they leave a job and the opt in the opportunities out there for them to not leave those options. This month's sponsor is six sense. Sixen so, the number one account engagement platform, helps you identify accounts that are in market for your solution, prioritize your efforts, engaged buyers the right way with highly relevant messaging, and measure what actually matters. With the six sense platform, you're able to get into more deals, improve when rates increase overall pipeline and optimize budgets spent. Learn more at ENSCOM. All right, let's do this episode ninety four. Is this a good time? All Right, I'm so excited to have things on with us. She is the Chief Marketing Officer at vested, Cool Startup that I'm interested in learning about. linked. Great to have you on the podcast. Yeah, likewise, for happy to be here. Great, great. So I'll me no filler jump right in with with the question. So, look, I'm tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got to this role of CMO and and and, of course, what you're currently doing. But bring us back first. I know you know, you're one of these folks who spent a fair amount of time at like the consulting companies and things like that before jumping into, you know, jumping into, I guess you know, the startup world. So bring us back to early in your career. Yeah, let me tell you about like what I'm doing right now and then I'll go back please. Yeah, so I'm the Truth Marketing Officer. Are Invested. We are a thing, tech startup that's helping start up employees really get the knowledge and capital they need to make the most out of their stock options. I don't know if you're familiar with the space,...

...but you know, start up conversation is really quite broken. About seventy four, more than seven percent actually. I'll start up options are abandoned each hear because the employees they don't have the cash to exercise to pay tax or simply they don't want to risk their own sort of hard UN savings if the startup doesn't go anywhere. So we existed to fix that right. So I'm happy to talk more about that. But you are right. I think I have a fairly diverse background, but that's probably true for a lot of people listening to this podcast. But you know, there's no being their path to do any job. I spend close to a decade as a management consultant, as you as you mentioned, I was working at the Boston Consulting Group and I think even there I had a pretty unique and pretty rich ex varians compared to a lot of my peers. So I sort of I focus on go to market strategy and execution for a lot of for CPT and and real estate clients really, and it's sort of felt my mags protease around two areas for two tool kids. The first one is through data science advanced and allows predictive analytics and sort of applying really large data set to do to run algorithms and learning everything from segmentation like pricing promotion, effectiveness, all of that good stuff. And the other aspect of my training was in at BCG. We had a company called digital ventures and the brand is really around start up in a box, right, so we bring a whole team of designers, Engineer's Uiux people and sort of to create and launch not just new concepts and products but also new businesses. Were interesting. Yeah, and that was all that was all in in the like either director consumer or or consumer product. Good space. Now, so finance and healthcare and also automotives, I think, insurance and would probably go back into healthcare, but those are the big verticals.

Oh Wow, and a BCG like diamond. Tell a little more, because I like the taking those big data sets and make decisions off them. I mean like that's that's kind of that's what you buy with consulting. But like what's a real life example of a way that you like influence the company and make it aside? You could keep the company names out of it for privacy and everything, but I'm really curious, like give us a success story from that time? Yeah, for sure. I mean we're to start. One of it is a real estate operator and so they own, you know, like thousands of units in across all the big cities in the US and they hired us to figure out the optimal renewal pricing for tenants. So something you may not be aware is that there's actually a pretty standard price increased playbook that all the operators polls, you know, standard five percent, seven percent increase, because they know people inertia gets to you and people refuse to move right but they also get a, you know, certain degree of turned if the price increase was too much. And there's kind of an optimal point that's based on people's likelihood to renew based on the price you give them, as well as market dynamic in terms of how many inventories actually out. There a sort of what our people's opportunity cost. So we did a four month study, really the data and others aspect of closer to two or three months, but was all big data projects. The Change Man, Hichman, that comes after that, who all the pricing guard us, how you challenge work and feel reps sort of all the discount guard risk you can give by different specihold that change management took an additional two months and that's one of the most rewarding things that work done. Wow, very cool. Look, what made you decide to go small? Right, like your in BCG, comfortable there for a longer period of time than many people spend in a consulting role, right.

You know, it's familiar. Was the business business? I see. Yeah, I mean it's, you know, like it seems like every day there's a new entrepreneur that did two years at eany or BCG or whatever, bane and I have an idea and I want to run it right now. They become first time founders and crush. You know, what gave you the bug to go and do something, you know, on the smaller side, go to go start up side? Yeah, you know, I would say I've always had that entrepreneurial side and I've always wanted to get into the driver's seat and, you know, get out of the visor capacity. But really what jump started all of that was that there's some interest immersion. I spent eight months and worked on four two different four five different teams with different clients. We actually launched some businesses that I think they're still in stealth mode but they you know, they have the potential to become something big. But I gotta say, I gotta say when you're operating. You know, the innovators still on the when you're advising a unfortune country company, there's still red tapes and things that you can't really cross and not all of the solutions are absolutely as innovative as you could make them. So that's kind of what'sprod of my my interest to leave then go small in the first cool. So I'm sure a lot of people are in bigger companies right now saying, Hey, should I go to work for a startup? You know, it's something that brings a different perspective to you. For sure. I love your idea of just taking the wheel and being in the driver's seat. Finally, rather than advising, go back to vested, because I find this incredibly interesting. How does vested how do you assess if you should? Let's say somebody comes to you and say, I am going to leave my company, I have the x number of options there at this price and whatever. How do you guys? It's almost like you're a VC taking on like bets on companies as to whether those things will, those options will turn into anything. How do you go about that process? Yeah, absolutely, so I think you're right about the similar to VC. We take a portfolio approach race. So we look at actually...

...all of the US based, VC venture backed companies and say which ones of these are are we willing to cover? And I mean I'll just do a shout out to everyone, all your audience, like, by no means don't, don't ever let your options go to waste. There are a couple of companies in our space and I think the ones you would hear about, because I I a guly be invested. It takes us like a different approach from from most of them and it means that we actually get to cover massively what I I don't know if I can say exactly how many more, but a lot of them cover a much smaller number of companies. We actually cover like thousands of companies. But anyway, our investment approach is that. You know, look, we don't have to be on the when, we don't really have to get the winners. We just by Vertue of having a portfolio based approach. We just need to avoid certain lemons and then we'll still be able to get a pretty handsome return from it. That's great. And so just like I mean give me a very average number. So somebody listening WHO's saying I'm leaving my job, the great resignation is upon us, but I don't want to buy my shares. Maybe I'll partner with invested is is it like they could participate in some percentage of that? I mean, like how does it work for the employee? Is it? Is it a split where they might have ten, fifteen, twenty five percent of that or something? I don't know. Yeah, well, you use us for however much you want to. You want cash or liquidity for right. So we have a baseline. You need to participate in a little bit. You can off hold all of it, but as well as in you can use us for up, you know, ten percent, twenty percent, fifty, seventy five whatever. Presenters. All right, cool. So, I mean I hope the people listening are going to have the lightbulb go up and say, Oh, this is a way where I can keep some of my equity, even though I'm not, you know, I'm not. I'm not going after it. So that's it's a pretty cool thing. Well, look, I'm we always talked about luck and hard work getting to people to where they are in their careers.

What's an example of either? That is really kind of you know, been a pivotal moment for you? Yeah, you know, I think I consider myself extraordinary lucky throughout my life. I think one instance of that was, you know, how I got into big data and innovation while I was at BCG and around two thousand and fourteen, you know, BCG was looking around and looking at se ring all of our clients and realizing the world is going digital, right, and we had to build all the digital capabilities and I was a massive organization wide transformation where we actually acquired capabilities, we were training, we were hiring, we're doing massive push and I was working with our global chair at that time on this transformation effort and we had sort of landed on an internal rotational training program for aspiring dishous old people and a couple months later that launched them. I applied and I was, you know, one of the first people to have gone through this immersive rotation program where I literally was staffed as a data scientist. I had to what my sleeves and learn python along with all these PhDs, right, and that wow, really tough, but such an enriching the experience and you know, I was just at the right place at the right time. So that's one example. I would sale that that sounds pretty hard. I've always dreamed about learning. I mean I feel like everybody who's involved in like business and strategy now wants to know python and be able to mess with the data. Maybe one day. Well, I mean I love that you again, you don't have to know python. I think as a promost of us like some sequel is sure, I have a little bit of Se Buel. Well, look, in any case, you know, I'm wondering as a CMO, what's a tidbit from...

...a marketing or, you know, sales tactic that you would want to share? That's a great question. You know, I wouldn't call this a tactic, maybe more of a foundation of strategy or even research thing, but I found talking to customers and building that really deep, almost pathological empathy and keeping that fresh is is the foundation of everything I do. You know, I make sure I talk to, always find customers each month and asking really broad open questions about like what a good day looks like for them, like their goals, their pain points, what keeps them up at night, where they get information from? You know, that guy's my thinking on personae. Guys are marketing strategy, my messaging higher, our new channels. You know, I actually found out about civilion through a customer interview. And look where we're chatting now and I've gotten so many helpful tips from the villions community. So really thankful about that. That's pretty cool. That's you got it from a customer conversation. I think that's a great output. You know, outcome to to obviously the work that you put in and talking to customers cool. What any any key positions you're hiring for today? Yow couple, and I love for anyone who's listening and to get into so direct off content. I mean, like millions of people nowadays are asking themselves, you know, how should I think about this? You know, can I actually get money from it? What do I do? And there's just it's such a black box out there. Like we have to find a you know, to have a strong rider that can cut through the noise. And you know, some days it could look like a blog post, other days it could look like a two minute video. But director of content is one. Strategic Partnership is another. Key Higher I'm working on right now. Interesting maybe partnering with WHO VC's a kind of working with their portfolio companies. I don't know, could be interesting.

All right, give some shadows. Who are people that you you look to to kind of get inspiration from a marketing or content perspective? Yeah, Brian Dale, for I mean that. I'm sure that's not a new name for everybody. I've actually really, really likes an another unexpected one is so I read the Charter newspaper. I don't know if you do, but I found their visualization and kind of how they make sense of stories and this sort of they point out the surprising things. I found that to be real. Somebody just introduce you this. This is a chart, our right charter. See, okay, cool, yeah, I haven't dove into it too much yet, but it looks cool. All right, good, too, good, good, little tidbits. Perfect. All right. Last, last but not least, most important to me, give me a restaurant I should go to, please. Well, you were in a kind of Sushia, Suda. It's they make simply. Have you been? Yes, yes, I loves, yes, Sudae, but please tell, tell everyone about it. Yeah, so I you know, I'm a bit of a purest when it comes to Sushi. So that like no full ground. No trouble, oil and everything, but if everything was just spectacular. I never knew white fish could taste like that. You know, people go for trutoral alter or. Yeah, fish is so simple and it's still the best Sushi, you know, you can have. I recently returned after having had a more conte other really famous places, and I still think is the best. Yeah, I agree with you and Ed to my my Sushi, you know, pure, you know, kind of small rice. Let the fish be the focus. Is Is it's the only way all of this stack truffles and flog. I mean, come on, this is this is the way right. Yeah, totally in a grate like. So great to have you on. I love what your company does. I think it's so cool. I think a lot of I hope that this gets to to a lot of years that might be interested in working with you because, yeah, I mean, you know,...

...start up option shouldn't go shouldn't go away. So very cool. Thanks for coming on and we'll be in will will, you know, love to keep in touch, definitely. Thank you. All right. That's our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show, rate and review apple. I guess a lot if I have sent it to friends to all the stuff. This episode was brought to you by six sens, powered by AI and predictive analytics. Sixth sense helps you unite your entire of new team with a shared set of data to achieve predictable revenue growth. I had so much fun today. I hope you did to now get out and crush your numbers.

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