Leadership Not Perfection, with Lessonly's Kyle Lacy
Tori: Hi, I've got a coffee for Seth. No milk, no sugar.
Seth Morales: Right here, thank you.
Tori: You're listening to No Milk, No Sugar, the podcast about business beneath the sweetener, powered by Morales Group and hosted by CEO, Seth Morales. We talk to local movers and shakers about what can be the harsh reality of doing business. We cover what no one likes to advertise, but everyone wants to hear. I'm Tori, producer of the show, and today Seth will be talking to speaker, author, and Lessonly CMO, Kyle Lacy.
Seth Morales: So I'm super pumped to have Kyle Lacy on the show today. Kyle is the CMO for Lessonly a learning management software system here in town. He has one of the most recognized marketing and brand footprints here, not only in the city but Midwest with what Lessonly's doing, he's built this phenomenal team... I think he's got a phenomenal track record just with him as an entrepreneur, working for ExactTarget and Salesforce and then doing some stuff out in Boston and the venture capital space, and then coming back home and working with Lessonly. So excited to hear what he has to say. Kyle's probably the most real leader you'll see. He's a excellent thought leader on social. He's got a strong following on all the different platforms. So I think you're in for a treat with just all the things that Kyle brings to the table. All right. You ready to go?
Kyle Lacy: Yeah, I'm ready.
Seth Morales: We'll free flow here. I was thinking about setting this up where we do just a quick context so people have a little bit of a background on you, just maybe a quick high level snapshot.
Kyle Lacy: A long time ago at the Paradise Cafe, Seth and Kyle met for the first time over black coffee. Unfortunately, the Paradise Cafe no longer exists.
Seth Morales: I know, man.
Kyle Lacy: I really enjoyed that Caesar salad too. It's terrible.
Seth Morales: That was back in 2005,'06 something like that.
Kyle Lacy: '06.I think it'06. It was right after I graduated.
Seth Morales: I think you had Brandswag or you were just starting that up.
Kyle Lacy: Yes.
Seth Morales: And you and I got together we talked about let's create a mastermind. And I was like," I like this guy he's legit." You have a million LinkedIn followers and you were the Twitter guy in the city. You were probably in the process of writing Twitter Marketing For Dummies weren't you?
Kyle Lacy: It was a little bit before that. It was probably 2007, honestly, 2007, 2008. And then we started our group of business leaders that lasted... Proximus lasted a couple of years, right?
Seth Morales: I think we ran with it for four or five years and then it kind of faded off, but it's cool is the relationships that were built during that time they endured. By the way, I was just talking to Mason before I hopped on with you. And he was telling me to give you some shit and just mess with you.
Kyle Lacy: Because I've never been inside of his house and I've lived next to him for two and a half years, three years.
Seth Morales: No. Mason's, Mason.
Kyle Lacy: I can throw a rock at his house right now. Maybe I should.
Seth Morales: You're on Delaware, right?
Kyle Lacy: Yeah.
Seth Morales: We just moved back down into the area where in a house with right in between Meridian and Illinois on 43rd Street.
Kyle Lacy: Yeah. Great.
Seth Morales: Yeah, yeah. So we're pumped to be back in the area.
Kyle Lacy: Welcome back.
Seth Morales: Thank you, man. Well, welcome to No Milk, No sugar. We're talking about real life in business beneath the sweetener.
Kyle Lacy: Great.
Seth Morales: So what's the nitty gritty-
Kyle Lacy: Love it.
Seth Morales: ...black coffee. What life is all about. That's today, man. So thanks for making time. It's great to connect with you. I thought just for a little bit of context and our audience, if those who don't know yet you're Indy's most recognized marketing guru. But could you give just a little bit of a snapshot, background, how you got to where you're at today?
Kyle Lacy: Yeah. So when we met 2008, I had just started a agency called Brandswag, which is basically social media consulting is the only thing I could sell at 25, 26 years old, or the only thing people would buy for me at 25, 26 years old. So we started out with designing MySpace pages for churches and we didn't sell any of them. And then I started getting into Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook and it started working really well. So through that, I was introduced to a company locally here in Indy, which is called ExactTarget and ExactTarget was an email marketing software. I had done some consulting with them on Twitter, like how do their sales people sell Twitter. And then when I ran my business into the ground and it was a complete failure, which is probably another podcast I joined ExactTarget. And that was my first foray into venture backed software. And ExactTarget, the year I joined I guarantee you we hired 500 people that year, it was a rocket ship. At ExactTarget I was speaking at about 40 conferences a year, ran a content marketing team. We were producing content in seven countries in four different languages. We IPO-ed, we were bought by Salesforce. I realized pretty quickly that I didn't want to work at a Salesforce because it was just too big. And that's when I joined OpenView it was a venture capital firm out of Boston. Got my MBA in software basically, and then joined Lessonly, who's where I started as VP of marketing four years ago last week and now CMO. And we've gone from 50 people to 200 and on any given day, I think it's about 215, 220.
Seth Morales: You guys have crushed it, you've had phenomenal growth and I appreciate you sharing that. I remember I was always really, really sad to see you leave when you went to Boston, I thought Indy had lost a true talent and it was good to have you back.
Kyle Lacy: I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what it did and I encourage anybody to do this, as long as you boomerang back for the most part. It gave me a confidence that I didn't have before because I made it in a tier one city. I went to Boston, I was able to do it. I was able to get jobs in Boston. I was competing for jobs in Boston and the Lessonly opportunity was just perfect for me and that's why we came back. It did wonders to my imposter syndrome and everything else because I had done it.
Seth Morales: A lot of it's about confidence, but today No Milk, No Sugar it's all about business cutting out the sweetener and getting to the real griminess of just leadership, building a business. Not necessarily the highlight reel, but more so about what's what's real when you pull back the curtain. A lot of times in marketing you can dress things up. I want to hear from you real quick you talked about Brandswag, you said you ran your business into the ground. Remind me again what was the hurdle there? How'd you guys drop that?
Kyle Lacy: All right, man, there was tons of hurdles. We were in it four to five years and it's really hard to run a business. And it was really hard to run a business with a bunch of people that had no idea what we were doing. We were all young most of us, we'd brought on a business partner and we just couldn't figure out the best way to grow the business. And so I think one day I just looked up and I was really, really unhappy, and I felt like I was 80 years old and I was 27. And that's not good at 27 years old, you shouldn't feel like you're 80. That was where I just was like I'm done because a lot of the growth of the company was selling my time and we couldn't figure out how to scale it. So much of my ego was built into that company. I think a lot of my ego is still built into my career, but it was my identity. So I had to remove myself from that situation because it was very, very unhealthy, both physically as well as mentally.
Seth Morales: What I picked up from you over the years is you got great self- awareness.
Kyle Lacy: The key is just acting on that self- awareness.
Seth Morales: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's all good. It takes years to I think develop that as a leader and as a human being, the EQ and being aware is key as a leader. You talked about Lessonly and when you came on board, you were recruited away your VC at Boston and then you jump on board with Lessonly, which is in startup mode and you guys scale up, you said 220. You've built teams. Talk to me less about the highlight reel, but what have you learned? What have been some good key learnings or mistakes along the way building because you've got a phenomenal marketing team, everyone recognizes Lessonly. Give me some feedback there.
Kyle Lacy: There's quite a bit, I would say the number one learning for me over the last four years has been the importance of empathy in leadership. I have zero empathy. We took an IQ leadership test at Lessonly and there were five questions on empathy from zero to a 100. I scored zero on all five of them. I am not a very empathetic person. However, I've had to learn that as the teams have grown and as we've dealt with situations like the past year, like the pandemic, everybody going remote, civil right issues and all that stuff. So empathy, you also have to have empathy because of the continuous rapid improvement that happens within a venture backed software company. Because a lot of us do not have an EBITDA line. We grow for the sake of growth. And when you grow for the sake of growth, things break all the time. And when things break all the time, it's very stressful. And mental health is very important. So having that empathy side, but also being obsessed with the idea that you have to constantly improve. So that's the second one, rapid continuous improvement. The third thing is being irrational. Too many times marketers, business leaders, spend way too much time trying to understand the data behind a decision, when sometimes you just need to be a little bit irrational to be creative, and it works. When you have irrationality, creative people stick around, and they enjoy doing what they do.
Seth Morales: That's rich. The empathy part, it's funny that you were so low on that.
Kyle Lacy: Max, our CEO at Lessonly my boss he couldn't believe it, but it was terrible, it was so bad. Everybody else was between 50 and a 100, and I bottomed out on all of them.
Seth Morales: That's funny, man. Talk to me about the pandemic. You guys went through a lot last year, we all did. If you had a key learning or where you fell short, what sticks out there for you?
Kyle Lacy: I have two. One was personal and it was the fact that I actually enjoyed it for the most part. Now, outside of the stress and everything that was happening, you take 180, 190 people that are all in one office and just move them all remote within a couple of weeks, especially if we have outbound sales reps that some of them live alone. And I can't imagine cold calling people in the middle of a pandemic, living in some apartment in downtown Indy that you can't leave. It kind of applies to the empathy stuff that I was talking before is that I had to put myself in the situations that everybody else was in. Lessonly was very fortunate. We raised money in March, we didn't fire anybody. We grew over the pandemic and now we're opening up again and we have 60 open head count in Q1. But I had to put myself in our customers, can you imagine being a sales leader and getting cold calls from people in March? I had to learn how to be patient, be empathetic, to understand the needs of my team because it was 30 something people and half of them lived alone, the other half had families like kids were not like... There's just so much that was going on that you just had to stop and say," It's okay if you need a break. It's okay if you need to take three days and not work because your mental health is more important on whether or not you can set a meeting, or whether or not we need to do this click rate optimization test, or whether or not we need to figure out budgets for X, Y, and Z." That was hard for me. It did not come naturally for me. The first couple months of being remote, I had to force a lot of it, but eventually it started becoming part of how I thought of myself as a leader. And now it's very natural for me to be a little bit more introspective before I make decisions.
Seth Morales: I noticed on LinkedIn, you had some posts last year about themes like that, where it's okay to take a break and call a time out mentally or just check out and just go do whatever you need to do to get your mind right. I stuck to that. I used that quite a bit in my own weekly meetings with our teams. So it was really important gravitating to that. I think a lot of our teammates that were younger that had been through a situation like this before and teammates that were more experienced, it was just a good all around trying to figure that out.
Kyle Lacy: You do this very well, it's just saying it. There were multiple times last year where I was in a team meeting I go," Guys, I am unhappy right now. I'm not in a good place. I'm going to take the afternoon." Because you can say it all day long but if you're still working 12 hours a day, your team's not going to follow you. So at Lessonly we actually had to implement a take five by 12/ 5, so December 5th. And it was a two month window where every single manager had to get their teammates to put five days that they were taking off. And we kept track of all of it to say," You have to leave. You have to disconnect. We don't care. You have to do it." Because some people won't do it.
Seth Morales: Yeah. They won't, they'll keep going and then they'll burn out. You do you have to say it as a leader and I think you need to be real. And that's something I really appreciate you as a leader, you call it how you see it, you straight talk. And there's no bullshit, that's why I wanted to have you on as a guest, you're just one of the more real people. And it's like we need more leaders that are more real.
Kyle Lacy: You're in the same boat. You and I feed off of each other in that regard. Look, we're all terrified. None of us have any idea what we're doing. Let's just say that out loud right now. I don't care if you're the CMO of a public company or a startup or a president of a staffing firm, you have no clue what's going on most of the time. And the sooner that you can say that to yourself, the sooner that you're going to grow as a leader because everybody else is thinking the same thing. I don't care where you're at in life.
Seth Morales: Talk to me. Just to be real, what do you suck at? What are you not good at? Give me some weaknesses.
Kyle Lacy: Yeah. I'm pausing because I'm thinking of too many weaknesses. I am great at the idea generation phase of something, I am really bad at implementation and seeing something through. If I'm a project manager on a campaign or something at Lessonly, usually my team is telling me," You can't be." Because it just falls off like it's terrible. Because I'm just terrible at I can get things started, I can build teams around things and they do a great job. But if I'm involved, it goes to shit most of the time. I'd say the other thing is I think constantly about being balanced like work- life balance. I think what I've figured out is that there's just no such thing as work- life balance and you have to be pretty focused on shutting off and I am not great at it. I'm terrible at it actually. But what I've been trying to do is say," Hey, you need to put your phone in the bedroom from five to 9: 00 PM. Hey, don't work after 9: 00 PM, it's going to be shitty work anyway." So those are probably the two things, two most important things because if I work late and I don't get good sleep, I'm terrible. I'm a terrible human being. Sleep is everything for me and I'm just not great at that either, so those would probably be the weaknesses. Do I get to reverse the question on you? Is that part of this podcast?
Seth Morales: You talked about getting shit done and executing on if you got a project, seeing it through, if that's my only focus I can do that okay but I'm not great at it. I'm not good on the detail front. I suck sometimes at just having difficult conversations. I'm a more of a harmony guy so when it's exercise that muscle a little bit, but it's taken me some time to get there. It's just not natural, having tough conversations. But I would say those are the two things that I suck at.
Kyle Lacy: Difficult conversations are not easy. That's something that Max our CEO is really good at. He's good at the nonviolent communication. I'm better at the difficult conversation, I'm terrible at the adverse of that. I need to remind myself to be optimistic, which comes very naturally to you in the coaching mentality to pump people up and be the.. I don't know the best, the rah- rah is that the right?
Seth Morales: The cheerleader man. It's all good.
Kyle Lacy: I didn't play sports and the coaching aspect does not come naturally to me either.
Seth Morales: Talk to me about being a thought leader. You're well- known and tracked on social. You got a strong following. Let's talk about being a thought leader on social media. It's kind of a weird question, but anything that comes to yo that is difficult?
Kyle Lacy: The number one thing happened to me recently, if you have an audience, be very, very sure that you are keeping up with what you're saying to that audience. This was sometime last year where I posted that my network is very white, a bunch of people, my LinkedIn network is a bunch of white people. And I posted that and I said," I want to meet different types of people." That post got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of comments, messages. And I dropped the ball on following up with quite a few of them. And there's a young woman who sent me a message and called me out on it. She's like," I introduced you to four people. You never followed up with them and you're the problem." She was very nice about it, she didn't say you're the problem, but it made me realize that what I'm very good at is randomly posting things off the top of my head, it takes me 30 seconds and they usually are pretty good. That's what I'm good at. If you do that and then you forget the fact that you asked for something and you didn't follow up with it, that's a problem because you're not delivering on the value. The value of the community, the value of expanding experiences. Panna, who called me out on it, she was on The Revenue Diaries, my podcast, and we talked about it. And she called me out on it and she said it was just bullshit that you didn't follow up with people. And that's what's hard about is that you have to remember that people care and they're watching and they're listening. And if you don't give them feedback, they are going to come after you if they really want something. That could be as small as I need an introduction into Lessonly to get a job, to I just introduce you to five of my friends and you never followed up and that's stressful.
Seth Morales: It is stressful. I'm glad you shared that because that just made me realize I need to step my game up, especially, I'm sure your LinkedIn inbox is blown up just with all the followers and posts that you have. Any other thoughts on that, just on LinkedIn and your inbox?
Kyle Lacy: See this is very tactical, but there's a feature in LinkedIn now where you can put it away message in your inbox. To where anybody sends you a message it will automatically send them a note that says," Hey, if this is really important, you should text me or email me or something." Outside of that, you just have to set the precedent. You have to say... I'm in a post that we have 60 job recs open if you contact me about being a recruiter, I'm never going to respond to you. Sales pitches, I put the context in my away messages, my email inbox, if you want to pitch me your product, you can give a$ 100 to donorschoose. org and then we'll put it on the calendar.
Seth Morales: I love it.
Kyle Lacy: I've raised a lot of money over the past four years. Everybody's out for their own good there could be some random person out of Dallas who really wants an account executive role at Lessonly and I never respond to the message that stresses me out. And it shouldn't really, but you have to set the precedent with people that sometimes I'm not going to respond and you might need to send me two or three messages before I see it.
Seth Morales: You can apply that across the board for any type of leader, whether you're in an organization or you're a thought leader on social, you definitely need to engage your community and have some tools to protect yourself. But at the same time, you got to put it in the effort if you're going to build that audience the right way.
Kyle Lacy: Like, why do you want to do it? I do it because the environment is so rich, you meet tons of people from different backgrounds and that's why I do it. The fact that some of my posts get good traction is just because I do it a lot, honestly. And for me it's just the community of people that's important.
Seth Morales: I've been watching your social game especially on LinkedIn and you've been an inspiration-
Kyle Lacy: Do not go look at my YouTube account, that's all you need to do. There are some videos on there from when, probably around the time that we met when I had hair-
Seth Morales: You had spiked ball spiked up hair and you drove that white Cadillac.
Kyle Lacy: ...and I had all spiked up, that's probably why I don't have it anymore. But some of that content doesn't need to be seen by anybody. Let's say that and I'm done.
Seth Morales: I remember that, that was great.
Kyle Lacy: It was a pearl Cadillac. It was like driving a couch, it was amazing. Oh my gosh, my business partner's grandmother gave it to us for free as a tax write off. And I was making maybe 18 grand a year maybe. And I remember driving that thing and it was one of the first ones that had a CD player in it because it was a'94 and it had air suspension in the back. And none of the air was in it, so it'd bottom out every time we went over a speed bump or anything, I love that car. It was a great car.
Seth Morales: So talk to me a little bit about life out in Boston, you went to this VC... Are you from Anderson, Indiana? Where'd you grow up?
Kyle Lacy: I grew up in Anderson. I was born in Spokane, Washington, but I lived in Anderson from two years old to graduating college.
Seth Morales: Yeah, that's right. So you went to Anderson University and then fast forward you're in your career and then you hop over to Boston. You said OpenView worked there venture capital backed company, worked with a lot of software companies. Best key learning and maybe some reality that hit you in the face out there. Anything that pops out?
Kyle Lacy: Key learnings were the... We've talked about this pretty much the whole podcast, but the importance of a network. I got the job at OpenView because Scott Dorsey, who is the CEO of ExactTarget, the founder of OpenView, who had been an investor in ExactTarget when they reached out for me to the role, Scott was very familiar and reached out to me and encouraged me to take it, like Lessonly, Scott's on the board. And the people that I met at OpenView were amazing. The network was amazing we're talking just the... And then learning the investment side of what it takes to get Series A, Series B type checks. The hard part was when I realized that I didn't want to do the investment side. What happened was I had a identity crisis at OpenView and this was towards the end of the two years, where I didn't really want to do the marketing role that I was hired to do and I didn't really want to do the investment role. And I was on the investment committee and I was also doing marketing and to Scott Maxwell's credit, who's the founder of OpenView. I think he saw it and he called me out on it, that was really hard for me to swallow. Was somebody telling me," Hey, I think you've done what you're supposed to do here, now you need to go back to be a practitioner." I had to learn the importance of listening to things that you might not want to hear when you really know it's the truth. And because of that I took the job at Lessonly and it's been great. And it's because Scott pushed me towards that decision when he knew it was the right decision, even though I was being kind of a dick about it.
Seth Morales: That's rich, man. I think truth over harmony like that and having people speak into you and then being aware to listen and taking the time.
Kyle Lacy: Well I didn't. That's the lesson is that I didn't want to listen to him and so I was very mad. And the reality was I look back four years later, I was like,"He was right, absolutely right."
Seth Morales: I've had that problem in the past with leaders where I wanted to move them into a different role and you gently serve it up, and then you serve it up again and then kind of want to hear what they want to hear. And they don't read the tea leaves and lean into it and use active listening. So that's a good thought, I did want to ask on the backend if there were any things that you really wanted to jump into?
Kyle Lacy: You're probably experiencing this too. I have never in my life seen this type of job environment. What's so interesting about it is all these soft... At least in our industry, all these software companies that had money held onto it over 2020 and didn't hire, or they let go of people. And when there was just a little light at the end of the tunnel in November is when we saw it, everybody opened up and everybody has remote infrastructure now and everyone is hiring. Why I bring that up is because as a leader, you definitely want to create an environment where people grow and learn and experience the things they need to experience in order to the career goals that they want to get to. And if that means that that person has to leave your company in order to get a better experience, you need to be okay with that as a leader because your ultimate responsibility in my mind is to your team and to the company. And in my mind, it's your team first. So if my goal as a leader for my marketing team is I am going to invest in you as much as I can, as much as this company can. And I want you to grow as much as you can in this role. But my ultimate thing is that you get to your career goal, whether it's at Lessonly or not. And I think that I've started to realize that that's more of a reality as this new job market's opening and we're hiring people all over the United States now and everybody else is. It's just so important to remember that the world is small, especially in venture backed software you're going to have multiple careers over a time frame. And the people that you are managing now more than likely will be the leaders of the future that you will be interacting with five 10 years from now. I think people just get too much too far in their head where they're like, they're leaving," That's bullshit." They're leaving the company. Well, maybe it's a better opportunity. They did what they were supposed to do, it's a better opportunity for them. And you need to realize the fact that things change and people evolve, and it's your responsibility to keep your team intact but to keep your team happy as well.
Seth Morales: I've caught myself slipping doing that where I've gotten salty, but I think you're right, when you take a step back and you realize that they're not necessarily going to always be on this climb with you.
Kyle Lacy: The employee, the teammate also needs to be respectful of the leader. If you're going to take a new role and you come to me and say," Hey, I'm going to be gone next week." I'll probably lay into you because you're not respecting both sides.
Seth Morales: But that's real, man, right now and you see it I think with a lot of folks that had time to contemplate at home. And I think kind of a young talented group that can move around and leverage their tech and just savviness, you're seeing a lot of movement. Lessonly is such a magnet for talent and such a great engaged culture. If this has happened at Lessonly-
Kyle Lacy: That's happening everywhere.
Seth Morales: ...it's everywhere, which is crazy. You and I had that tech story going on a couple of weeks ago around that same topic. It was alarming because we had a couple of folks jump ship and take a different role. And it's tough because you pour into folks and you want to invest in them at the same time just kind have the ego to step back and," You know what, this isn't necessarily their path long- term."
Kyle Lacy: If you set it up to the point where... What I encourage my team to do is that if they are receiving offers or they're being recruited, I want them to come to me and talk about the job offer. And I've had multiple situations where I've told somebody," You need to take it."
Seth Morales: No, I was going to say out of 10 people where that happens, where they leave, they don't go to you first but they leave. How many times are they doing, where they're coming to you ahead of time?
Kyle Lacy: 80% of them pretty much, if you do 10 there's eight of them that are coming to me. The people that leave that we have good relationships, they're helping me and I'm helping them right now in our current jobs. I'm like," Hey, can you check this out because I have no idea what I'm doing." And they give feedback because it ended in the right way because it was respectful on both sides of the equation.
Seth Morales: And it comes back to your community thing. When you think about social and the community and just doing people. You might have a great run of posts, but then on the backend how are you engaging your audience and how are you following up?
Kyle Lacy: A lot of the leadership values that we all hold, you, Brian Schutt, Mason, myself was learned from this group that we had started and then also just in the community. And Scott Dorsey is probably the great example of that, greatest example for me. I met him randomly a Forty under 40 event in 2009,'10, and my business was falling apart. And I randomly emailed him and said," Hey, would you just talk to me on the phone about my issues?" He had met me for five minutes at a IBJ party. And he talked to me for 45 minutes on his way home, 45 minutes. He was a CEO of a company, this 28 year old I had no idea what I was doing. And to this day, every decision I've made since 2012 is influenced by him.
Seth Morales: The Dorsey principle.
Kyle Lacy: The Dorsey principle. He needs to write a book, I'll send this podcast to him and say-
Seth Morales: You should, man.
Kyle Lacy: ...listen to minute five because we talk about you writing a book, The Dorsey Principles. Maybe I should write the book The Dorsey Principles, but that's an example of when you give back to the community, you'll receive. It's like the Adam Grant book Give and Take great book. The givers and the takers, and making sure that you understand how to do that in your personal life and understanding why you're doing some of that stuff's important.
Seth Morales: Really proud of you, man, to see you grow in your career. Revenue collective, I'm kind of jealous looking on the outside in at what you guys are doing. There's some real sticky traction. You've done so much in such a short window of time.
Kyle Lacy: Yeah. It's being opportunistic. I was very lucky that I had randomly met a neighbor of a wily editor to write Twitter Marketing For Dummies. Because if I hadn't wrote Twitter Marketing For Dummies, ExactTarget wouldn't know I existed. I wouldn't have got the job at ExactTarget, and then they paid for me to speak at 40 conferences a year for three years. You just keep building upon the community. I could talk about that forever it's just so important... I've met way too many people that have had a job for 20 years and did not do any type of community development. And they pick their head up and they're like," What the hell am I going to do? I didn't do anything outside of just going to work and my family." Which is fine. But if for some reason you look up one day and you're fired and you didn't create a community, it's going to be a hard road for you. And you don't have to do what I do, you don't have to do what Seth does. We probably community build a little bit too much. You just need to be able to know that you can go to five to 10 people if you need help. And what I tell my team is that my goal for them is that they don't have to use a resume to get a job when they leave Lessonly, because you're probably poached or you know somebody at the company and you move over to it.
Seth Morales: You should write a book on this idea of the Dorsey principles.
Kyle Lacy: That's a great idea. I might do that.
Seth Morales: How many books have you written? Is it three, four, five?
Kyle Lacy: Three.
Seth Morales: Three. Have contemplated writing any other books?
Kyle Lacy: No. I've thought about writing a children's book, but that has nothing to do with anything we're talking about.
Seth Morales: I love it.
Kyle Lacy: I've thought about doing a children's book recently. Branding Yourself, I think is going to have its fourth edition here in the next six months.
Seth Morales: I remember taking that book and sharing it with Northwestern Mutual. I was doing some sales training with some Northwestern Mutual reps and I brought that up and I was like," Look, I'm going to stand out."
Kyle Lacy: I only make like 200 bucks a year, but it still sells in Seoul, South Korea. And then there's this MBA program out of Reno and they buy it every year.
Seth Morales: That's awesome, man. You should show up one day to speak to that class or something.
Kyle Lacy: I did once, I did once. I had flown from Australia for ExactTarget to Reno because I was speaking at a conference in Reno, and I met this group the night I flew in from Australia and I'm pretty sure the guy never told me. I think he's still a professor. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep at dinner with some of the students. I'm pretty sure I did because I had had a beer, I'd had dinner, I'd been awake for 28 hours or something like that. Look, I think we've talked about this the whole time and I will continue to talk about the importance of investing in other people in community development. If anybody wants to reach out LinkedIn Twitter, I'm not on Facebook so don't try, I do have a TikTok account buried somewhere but definitely LinkedIn is where I'm usually at.
Seth Morales: I love it, man. Thank you again for making time.
Kyle Lacy: Absolutely. Thank you. It's a pleasure.
Seth Morales: Liquid gold in your earphones, it's good stuff. I think some of the key takeaways for me with Kyle, he had a ton of rich content. But there was one that really stuck out, he talked about this imposter syndrome quote and he was just like," We're all terrified. None of us have any idea what we're doing." And that's so true so often and leaders just want to stunt and front, and act like they've got it all figured out. I wish more leaders did that or bought into that. He was genuine and real about just empathy. I love what he talked about how when he did his empathetic scores from an EQ test that they did at Lessonly that he had a really shitty score, and he is not naturally gifted with being empathetic. But he also knows that if you're going to run a business successfully, you got to have it and it's not sustainable to roll that way. So being aware and having that growth in him on empathy was really, really interesting. I loved how he talked about how talent, especially right now, after the pandemic, people have options to leave and people won't always stay with you long- term. He said that there's a graceful way to leave and there's a great way to build that open relationship. So if somebody's got an offer, they're having this conversation with Kyle ahead of time. They're just talking about it and they're being a real because he realizes longterm a lot of the people especially in his software space, they're not always going to be with them climbing up the mountain for 20 years, this is a two, three, four year gig and they're out or even shorter. And so just being open to everyone's got a different journey, everyone's got a different climb and you just got to be open to that. I think a lot of us leaders struggle with that from time to time.
Tori: Thanks for tuning into another episode of No Milk, No Sugar, the podcast about business beneath the sweetener. We hope you learned something and we'd love to hear from you. Tag us with# NoMilkNoSugar, or email us at nomilknosugarpod @ gmail. com or connect with Seth on LinkedIn. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and we'll see you next time.
In this episode, Seth talks to Kyle Lacy — not only an author and public speaker on marketing and digital trends, but who also leads marketing as CMO for Lessonly, a team-learning software company based in Indianapolis.
Kyle is no stranger to real talk. He and Seth dive into the failure of his early company, what impostor syndrome looks like as a leader, and they peel back the lid on their own weaknesses. Realism and empathy don't have to be mutually exclusive, and using that balance to create a community is the lifeblood that will pump you to the next level in your career.