As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a C-Suite Executive” I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Collins.
Sarah Collins is the CMO of LMN, the leading business management SaaS company for landscapers and the green industry. Sarah brings more than 15 years’ experience across the marketing and communications spectrum to the CMO role. Before joining LMN, Sarah served as the Vice President of Social PR at The Buyer Group.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path? Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
In 2015, I worked on the project of all projects. We launched a campaign for KSwiss where we tapped into celebrities (Diplo as CEO, Fat Jew as Social Media King and others) to help reframe the brand to entrepreneurial minded millennials.
We worked alongside the agency Vice and other partners and launched a call to entry for up-and-coming entrepreneurs to help reshape the KSwiss brand.
This project started with a simple insight, that 80% millennials want to be their own boss and lead to 8,000 applicants and a “Best in Show” award at the MKE99 Adworkers event.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It’s always best to be confident in your answer and not let emotions get in the way. Early in my career, I struggled with this concept and have learned to listen, distill and then respond. It leads to more precise thinking and less clouded judgment.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your leadership style? Can you share a story or an example of that?
Buddha and the Badass. It blends the art of self-awareness and self-learning to make an impact.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
LMN exists to help landscapers grow. The very core of our business aims to drive profit and efficiency for landscape business owners. At the end of the day, we only care about our customers living fuller and less complicated lives. The software we provide helps our customers get there and very quickly.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Trust your heart. I spent years making decisions with my head and while there is a time and a place for that; the heart is the connection to the true self, which is where all major life decisions should be made.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Move quickly. That’s the worst advice of all time. Humans need time to process. Ideas need time to settle. I’ve been trained my whole career to move faster. I’m incredibly accountable and fast-paced but most ideas need time to marinate.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Organization — jumping from one thing to the next is easy to get frustrated and lose documents. A clear process to organize your thoughts, inbox and documents is necessary.
- Strategy — stop and smell the roses with a strategic mindset. Don’t shoot from the hip and ensure there’s a compelling reason why behind everything before you move.
- Kindness — lead with a happy heart and you’ll get far. The CEO of LMN is one of the kindest people I’ve met. He takes the time to get to know people and it’s not about his agenda first. All of the leaders at the organization are incredibly humble and kind-hearted, which isn’t a typical headline in the business section.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?
That it’s lonely at the top. It’s only as lonely as you make it.
What are the most common leadership mistakes you have seen C-Suite leaders make when they start leading a new team? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Lack of communication.
Documentation is key.
Review the documentation with your employees so they can ask questions and understand.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Being an empathetic leader is my #1 success metric (before my KPIs)
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading From the C-Suite”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Listen to your math teacher. Data is the center of any CMO role. Without understanding the metrics in-and-out, there’s no role. I use data to make every decision on hand. It’s a blend of art and science.
- Trust your gut. You’ll use your years of experience to make the right decisions. Don’t second guess them. Believe in yourself.
- You are only as good as the people around you. I knew this many years ago. I’ve been blessed with fantastic coworkers who have passion and care about what they do. These are gifts that don’t always come around, so appreciate the good ones and learn how to mentor and coach those whose time it is to rise. Extra tip is to hire a coach who can help you lead others.
- Set boundaries. Put your heart into your work and your life. Let your life guide your frame of reference to all your work decisions. If you do it the other way around, it’s a mess.
- Expand your network. Keep in touch with peers from past work relationships. Lean on them to ideate and brainstorm. Tap into others experience to gain confidence in your decisions.
In your opinion, what are a few ways that executives can help to create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?
Create a “guide book” on how to work with you. Answer these questions about yourself: What makes you tick? What’s important to you? How will you be successful in your role? How can we work best together?
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Yoga for everyone. If every person in the workplace incorporated 1% of yogic principles or 10 minutes of their day in a flow state, we would be in a better place. Yoga helps clear the mind and focus on the good. Bliss is real.
How can our readers further follow you online?