Popforms Leader Of The Week is a brand new feature on our blog, where we highlight an outstanding leader and share their insights on leadership, career, and being awesome at your job.
Andrew is the Director of Business Development at Moz, a marketing analytics platform with over 25,000 customers. There, he oversees the Business Development team, which is responsible for data licensing, product distribution, strategic partnerships, and various other growth-related initiatives. In previous lives, Andrew held similar roles at Seesmic (acquired by Hootsuite) and Tatango. Andrew’s work has been routinely recognized across an array of technology blogs, and he’s a frequent mentor at groups like Startup Weekend and Teens In Tech. During the occasional free weekend or evening, Andrew can often be found hacking on Stride, a passion project of his.
What’s your job title?
I’m the Director of Business Development at Moz.
What do you actually do every day?
That’s an important question to ask when it comes to Business Development. The function varies so much from company to company. At Moz, I see myself as a trailblazer. My job is to test new growth channels to determine whether they’re both scalable and profitable, and grow the team appropriately to support it if so.
Today, those channels include things like product distributions, data licensing, strategic partnerships, and acquisitions. Another key day to day function for me is filtering. We get a lot of inbound requests to partner with other companies at Moz, and one of the roles of Business Development is to filter those requests to only the ones that are aligned with the company’s strategic goals. At any startup, focus and time are the two scarcest resources — it’s up to Business Development to protect that.
In ten words or less, what is your leadership philosophy?
Remove barriers and encourage failure.
What company besides your own has an amazing culture? What do you like about it?
Recently, I visited the Hubspot office in Cambridge and I was blown away by their culture. People were scribbling freely on whiteboards, laughing over coffee in the kitchen, and playing pong in between writing lines of code. I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering how much they preach on the importance of culture.
What I loved about it was that it was goal-driven, not perk-driven. What I mean by that is that the culture revolved around solving hard problems, not the allure of free food and beer. That’s not culture. Culture is shared values and passion amongst a group of people. It was inspiring to see that they were able to maintain that culture with their rapid growth and 650+ person team, something we aspire to at Moz.
What are the key qualities (in order of importance) that you look for in a great hire?
The first thing I look for is a passion and ability to learn. In any role, you’re going to have to learn new ways of doing things, and it’s important to find a person that’s not only willing to learn, but craving the growth that comes from learning.
The next thing I look for is grit, I want to see something in their past that showed that they’re strong, that they’ve failed before and are better because of it. People that shy away from failure are typically scared to take risks and are lacking in humility. At a startup, you have to be able to go outside of your comfort zone.
Finally, I like to see an entrepreneurial spirit. I’m not looking for someone that started their own company, necessarily, I’m more looking for that deep desire to create and be creative. I’m looking for builders.
If you had to give career advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?
Stop caring so much about what others think about you and the decisions you make. When I got into startups, I turned down some amazing opportunities at large companies, I dropped out of college, I went out of the lines that are typically drawn for a young person’s career. I let the feedback from my parents, friends, etc. influence my confidence in my own decisions.
I knew it was the best thing for me, but I let the perspective of others make me second-guess myself. The second piece of advice I would give myself is that your career is a marathon, not a sprint. I pushed way to hard at my first startup and burnt out, hard. It’s difficult not to get sucked up into the news of all the young people that are doing amazing things. I wanted it so bad that I did so at the detriment of my own health. Your career is a long-term game, and it took me many years to figure that out.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
Oddly enough, it was a walk that I took around the Harvard campus while I was in Cambridge. There was something about the combination of historical significance and pure intelligence of the people around me that was incredibly inspiring. I ended up sitting outside, on the cold autumn afternoon, and began writing code. Typically, it’s very hard for me to get in the mindset of writing code, but being in that environment flipped a switch for me. It was by far one of the most inspiring trips I’ve taken.
Any favorite books or articles related to career and business?
My favorite book is How Will You Measure Your Life, by Clayton Christensen. I’m such a big fan of it because it probes at the question of why. Why are you in your specific career? Why are you working so hard? What (and what too, I guess) are you truly trying to accomplish? Typically, I lean towards pure business books, but this one challenged me in a different way than anything else I’ve read before. Other favorites include The Power of Habit, Made to Stick, Outliers, and Rework.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Ask questions. You need to be willing to humble yourself and ask questions to those that are smarter and more experienced than you. Using the power of others, I’ve learned countless skills that have helped me grow professionally and helped grow the businesses that I’m working on. The concept of asking questions has also become one of my most powerful leadership tools.
More Andrew Dumont:
Where do you live/work?
I live in Seattle and work at Moz.
Where is the best place for people to learn more about you?
Where can people connect with you?
@AndrewDumont on Twitter.