IN-PERSON is a podcast series that tells the stories behind the world's most daring events and the people who make them happen.

Music by Winesap.

 

GUEST SUBMISSIONS
By Industry
By Topic
By Role
feather_search

28 | Chris Duke, Rubrik: Empathy in Events

  • January 22, 2020
  • 44:00

Chris Duke (Senior Manager, Global Event Marketing at Rubrik) shares his thoughts on leading with empathy, working with agencies, launching a global field marketing campaign and user conference, event exhibition strategy, and his final verdict on the latest entry in the Fast and Furious franchise.

You can also listen on these platforms:

Top Takeaways

1

LAUNCHING A GLOBAL FIELD MARKETING CAMPAIGN: For Chris, the goal of field marketing events are two-fold: first, field events helped close deals. Second, they allow attendees to see first hand the value of the product and its capabilities. “At the heart of it is the test drive—we really want to make sure that people get the chance to use the product because the messaging can only go so far.”

2

OPTIMIZING AN EVENT EXHIBITION STRATEGY: When sponsored trade shows and conferences, like VMworld, show positive ROI, Chris immediately strategizes, “how do I up-level the experience?” Chris enhances high performing sponsored investments with bigger booths, special VIP activations, and charity events to draw the right audience and help spread brand awareness. “There's a lot of data that goes behind sponsored events. Our focus is being more strategic with those investments.”

3

LEADING WITH EMPATHY: When it comes to effective leadership, Chris believes good communication starts with recognizing the people that make up the team. This means investing in each individual as a whole, asking pertinent questions about who they are and what they want, and ultimately helping them get to the next step in their career. “I have to keep them at the forefront of my mind to make sure that they're doing fulfilling work at the end of the day. I want them going home thinking, ‘I accomplished something, I did something, and I'm moving in a direction where I want to go.’"

ABOUT Chris Duke

Chris oversees Rubrik's global field marketing program. His achievements include launching the company's first global field marketing campaign (Camp Rubrik) and first user conference (Rubrik Forward). Before joining the team at Rubrik, Chris worked at brands like DC Shoes, Red Bull, and GoPro—granting him a unique B2C perspective on B2B marketing.

Episode Transcript

CHRIS:

I think just in personal relationships, too, we want to feel seen, heard, understood, whether it's a friendship, or a relationship, or something like that. When we're talking about business, and we're talking about marketing, those people want to feel the exact same way.

BRANDON:

Hello and welcome to IN-PERSON brought to you by Bizzabo. In each episode of IN-PERSON we explore the world's most daring events and the people who make them happen. In case you and I haven't already met, I'm Brandon Rafalson. Today we're talking about events at Rubrik. Rubrik is a market leader in cloud data management. They deliver a single platform to manage and protect data in the cloud, at the edge, and on premises. In 2019, Rubrik announced a 261 million dollar series E investment, for a total of 553 million dollars raised. They also landed a valuation at 3.3 billion. All that is to say that Rubrik is a rapidly growing company that is faced with rapidly building out their event marketing program. Leading events at Rubrik is Chris Duke. Before joining the team at Rubrik, Chris worked at brands like DC Shoes, Red Bull and GoPro granting him a unique B2C perspective on B2B marketing.

In this episode Chris shares his thoughts on leading with empathy, working with agencies, launching a global field marketing campaign, and a user conference optimizing an event exhibition strategy, and his final verdict on the latest entry in the Fast and Furious franchise. One final word before we jump into the interview. If you're a fan of IN-PERSON and would like to heap some praise on us, or if you have some feedback on things you'd like to see us do differently, please drop us a line at IN-PERSON at bizzabo.com. We've gotten a lot of good topic suggestions already and we always look forward to hearing what you have to say. Also, if you've been listening to more than one episode, or once you're done with this one you find yourself a newly-born fan, you can help other people find out about IN-PERSON by leaving us a review in Apple Podcast, and by subscribing to us on your podcast platform of choice. That's it for my plug. Let's get to it.

I know that Rubrik is a very rapidly growing company. We were just talking about how the company grew from a couple hundred folks to more than a thousand folks during the time that you were here, over the course of a year?

CHRIS:

Yeah, a little over a year.

BRANDON:

Little over a year, which is amazing. But, when I think about things that are going really fast I also think about cars and, specifically...

CHRIS:

Naturally.

BRANDON:

I think about...Well, I'll put it this way, Fast and Furious or Hobbs & Shaw.

CHRIS:

So, a little backstory. When I was at GoPro we ended up giving a bunch of cameras to Fast and Furious 6, so we got a special screening of the movie.

BRANDON:

Oh wow.

CHRIS:

That was the one right after Paul Walker had passed away, so we got to all go see this amazing movie, and the ending was sad, and it's awesome, it's a great movie. But Hobbs & Shaw, the moment I saw the trailer, I was like, "That is going to be my favorite movie of the year."

BRANDON:

What spoke to you?

CHRIS:

So, the piece where they're on the Island in Hawaii, I believe, and The Rock is in the back of a truck that's drifting over the cliff, and on one side he's holding the truck from falling off the cliff and the other side, he's got the chain holding onto the helicopter...

BRANDON:

Oh wow.

CHRIS:

...that's dragging them and he's bringing it back together to save them. At that point, I bought the premier ticket and it was like, "I'm going." No one went with me, so I went alone. I ended up going to one of those movie theaters that have the lay-down seats and got myself dinner. I got myself a nice beverage and I said, "I'm going to just thoroughly enjoy myself for the next two and a half hours."

BRANDON:

It was an evening for you?

CHRIS:

Yeah, it was me. It was self-care. Some people get massages or, I don't know, whatever they do, and I go to Hobbs & Shaw. That's what I did.

BRANDON:

And did it-

CHRIS:

It exceeded my expectations.

BRANDON:

It exceeded your expectations?

CHRIS:

The banter between The Rock, Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson and Jason Statham is just unmatched. It's funny. There was a love story. The action is incredible. They use every type of car, and weapon, and everything you can imagine in a movie. It was the perfect two and a half hours.

BRANDON:

Wow. You heard it here folks. Check out Hobbs & Shaw.

CHRIS:

Hobbs & Shaw. If there's a sequel-

BRANDON:

An offshoot of the Fast and Furious...

CHRIS:

Yes.

BRANDON:

...franchise.

CHRIS:

It should be more successful.

BRANDON:

Is it available on Blue-ray now?

CHRIS:

Probably. Yeah, yeah.

BRANDON:

Get it on Blue-ray, get on streaming, whatever you need. Hobbs & Shaw.

CHRIS:

Just go watch it.

BRANDON:

Moving on to, I guess, the real reason we're here today is to discuss you and the work that you're doing with the events team here at Rubrik. To start us off, could you briefly share with us some of the major initiatives at Rubrik right now and how your goals on the events team are sort of aligned with that?

CHRIS:

Just a little bit of background context I think is important. Rubrik was founded in 2014, so this is still very much so a young company. I think we've moved out of a startup into a young company. This was built by our founders because they wanted to revolutionize how businesses and enterprises manage and control their data. This is like a 50 billion dollar market, and they just know that it needed to be disrupted. Data now more than ever is growing and it's expanding rapidly as companies have started to adopt hybrid cloud and multi-cloud models. With that data can become really siloed, complex, and really, really expensive to manage. So, here we come in, and it's our job to basically give people the ability ... I think it's important to say the people, not businesses, like the person using it, the ability to manage it, to control it, automate it, all in a single unified platform. So that's what we do.

We've been on this journey for the past five, six years now, to continue to grow and create pieces of that platform that gives people the ability to do that. So, it's my job as the lead person on the events team to be able to create experiences that share that message and that mission, as well. We want people leaving an event, or leaving an experience, or a roadshow, or even our internal events, knowing that mission and that message.

BRANDON:

As you said, they are a bunch of different products that are coming out. You said there are around like 14, or so, that have launched.

CHRIS:

Yep, 14 product releases, and a lot of that...Some of those are big major releases, some of them are dot releases, and so some are upgrades, some are new products themselves, and new platforms themselves, as well. So, it's been in the past four to five years to have that many product releases is pretty crazy.

BRANDON:

We're going to talk more about Rubrik and how your team is structured, and some of the specific initiatives that you're working on in just a second. To take a step back, at the time of this interview you'd been with Rubrik for roughly three years, and before that you worked at GoPro, Red Bull, and DC Shoes, which are all very cool brands that are also very B2C. Could you tell us about the different steps in your journey throughout your career that sort of led to where you are today, and making that jump from the B2C to a B2B plan like Rubrik?

CHRIS:

I grew up in the Bay Area, so I kind of grew up in the tech world. I grew up in Silicon Valley so I know all about it. I kind of knew ... When I was growing up I didn't think that would be something that I'd be interested in. I always wanted to work for like a cool brand, or something fun, or something like that. I went down to school in L.A., and after that, total fluke I just applied, interviewed, got the job at DC, which skateboard company, they make decks, they make shoes, clothes, an apparel company. They're actually owned by Quicksilver, so I actually worked at Quicksilver Building.

BRANDON:

Oh wow.

CHRIS:

One thing you learn about that space, and action sports, is that it's super well connected. Everyone knows everyone. It feels huge, but it's actually really small. There's a handful of people that do everything, and you're at the same events, X Games, surf events, bike events, things like that. You're all together all the time. All the brands sponsor everybody. I ended up meeting someone there, ended up getting a job at Red Bull, so I worked on their field marketing team and their athlete marketing team at their Santa Monica headquarters, and my boss from the field marketing team at Red Bull went to this cool startup called GoPro back in Northern California. They were making these action cameras, and he sent me a YouTube video. All of a sudden I was like, "Oh, my gosh, I need to do like a backflip or something off the ski jump." I'm like totally incapable of doing that.

BRANDON:

Cool.

CHRIS:

Exactly. It was just a revolutionized camera that really just changed the industry and I said, "Wow, that is an awesome company." It's back in Northern California. I know that's kind of where home is. I would love to go back there at some point. It ended up working out, and ended up getting a job there at GoPro. I ended up working on the professional marketing team, so I did trade shows, so I did CES, NAB, Mobile World Congress, events like that. I also did surf, skate, wake, and bike events, as well.

Then, GoPro has a flagship event in Vail, Colorado every year called GoPro Mountain Games, so I got to be a part of that, as well. That's kind of like if we were to correlate it to the tech world, that would be like their user conference, where they launch new products, where they showcase some of their new technology around software and hardware and the mounts, of course, as well.

BRANDON:

You're at GoPro and you were helping them sort of bring all these technologies that they were developing to life with these events and seeing how they can be used in really cool sports like snowboarding, or surfing, or what have you.

CHRIS:

Exactly. I thought...After a few years there I really wanted to make a switch. I just felt like something was like, "I need to do something different. I've been in this world for a while now." I really thought my personality, and the way that I work, and the way that I carry myself and handle myself, would do really well in a startup environment. Again, back to high school, Chris, saying, "I'll never work in tech," I'm in the heart of it. So, here I am three years later at Rubrik working in a very much B2B landscape coming from a B2C environment. I actually think I've had a lot of learning curves with that, but I've also ... It's been cool to be able to take aspects of B2C and bring it to a B2B environment.

BRANDON:

Like what?

CHRIS:

One of the things that I think we forget in B2B is that there's a person behind the job title and the business name. Sometimes we think, yeah, this bank's coming, or this hospital's coming to our event, but I'm like, "No, there's a person that's coming to the event. How do I tailor that experience?" Just like in the B2C world, if you come to my event, there's a good chance you're probably going to buy that camera from me, or that drink for me, or whatever it is, or that shoe. So, for me I want to create experiences in the B2B that really puts the person at the heart of it, and then I truly start to like understand what their needs are, what they want to come out of the event with, what issues are they having, and how can I solve them? Also then, take the Rubrik brand itself and bring it all together in one place.

BRANDON:

We're going to talk about some of the specific events that you're doing in just a second that are really keeping that individual in mind. But, before we do that let's talk about your team, your team at Rubrik and how is it structured?

CHRIS:

Global events is part of the corporate marketing team here, and our marketing team is lean, but we're a global team, and our global events team is four people, including myself. So, there's three of us that are based in Palo Alto, and one person on the team is based in Amsterdam. The four of us manage all the events in North America, EMEA and APJ. It's just the four of us that do all of them. We have a field marketing team that are a great resource. They handle some of the different aspects of event marketing, but we're handling all of the conferences, internal events like the Global Sales Kickoff, Rubrik Forward, which we'll talk about in a little bit. We started Camp Rubrik, which has grown so much that it's outgrown our team, which is awesome. I love that it's outgrown our team, that it wasn't just a once a month thing, it's happening all the time. As well as we're involved in any of the road shows and stuff like that we get involved with, as well.

BRANDON:

Well, so you have a team of four, working with some agencies to help carry the load and make sure that you're able to execute all these different events across the world.

CHRIS:

Exactly.

BRANDON:

Do you have like a ballpark figure in how many events?

CHRIS:

Yeah, our team will probably touch at least 50 events, and then that's not including some of the internal stuff we do, as well as if we need to jump in at any road show or Camp Rubrik, as well. But, 50 is kind of the number we reach.

BRANDON:

We've mentioned it a couple of times now, Camp Rubrik. Let's take a second to explore this a little bit further. I know that this is in some ways a baby project of yours that you worked on in its earliest days. There are now other team members who are involved with it who are working on it. What is Camp Rubrik? How did it start? What are some of the main goals you're driving with it?

CHRIS:

When I first joined we didn't necessarily have a lot of Rubrik-owned events. I come from a world where everyone owns their own events. You maybe do sponsor a few things like X Games, like we talked about, but GoPro had their own events, Red bull had their own events. Red bull pretty much only did their own events, which is crazy. Here it was different for me because we just sponsored everything. So, we came in ... We had done some road show type work, but we built Camp Rubrik as a global road show that was like a hands-on test drive. When we talk about B2C to B2B, B2C, if you come to one of my events and you grab that camera, just using GoPro from my experience, and you grab that camera and you play with it, and you get to like shoot with it a little bit and put it back down, there's a good chance you'll probably end up buying it, because you had the ability to see it and use it.

In this world, unless you have a proof of concept, or something like that, or a demo, you're pretty much to get a hands on experience where you can just mess around and break something, and fix it, and work on it, is pretty rare. I wanted to make sure when we were building this road show that it's really good for business. So, we wanted to build a road show that helped close deals at the end of the day. That's part of our job. The other part of it, though, is how do I create this experience that basically shows what Rubrik is capable of? I can tell you about what Rubrik does, and that's cool, and that's great, but when you have the ability to sit down and play with it, and mess with it, and you can go through like a guided tour of it, as well, it really gives you a better understanding of the value of the product. So, that's where our focus was.

Our VP of Corporate Marketing here, who's awesome, and just wants to constantly do things different, and wants to innovate, and do things fast, he was like, "You, basically, have a month to plan the whole thing." We were able to come up with the idea as a whole for Camp Rubrik, and then also create like a theme and a branding around it. It's probably the one time in my life where an idea we had at first was the idea we went with, and it wasn't like we had to go through 12 iterations of it. I was just at home one day, and I was just thinking about this because I literally had like a month to pull it off, and I said, "What if we just built a thing where you could get badges for it?" I grew up in, I did Boy Scouts growing up. So yeah, you got like merit badges for it. There was a book, like a lab guide you went through. We called it a field notebook, or something like that. So, there was a whole theme around it.

I think it's important to have fun. We wanted to have fun with it. We wanted to not be stale and boring. Why would you leave work in the middle of the day to come to this thing? We want to have fun, you're going to get value out of it, it's easy to convince your boss to go to because you're going to get real-world experience, and you're going to get some cool stuff out of it, too. That's the theme around Camp Rubrik. At the heart of it is the test drive, and we really wanted to make sure that people got the chance to use the product because the messaging can only go so far. Once you have the hands-on experience it's a whole new thing.

BRANDON:

I really appreciate that attention to detail that you sort of baked into it, having all these things that are very fun. That would get somebody excited about this event, somewhat similar to the way that maybe you got excited about GoPro when you first saw it in action.

CHRIS:

Sure. Yeah.

BRANDON:

I mean, Hey, there are badges, there's this hands-on experience, you get to go there. Is there sort of an incentive to go to repeat events to get additional badges?

CHRIS:

No. So we're still in kind of, ... It's crazy, it's been a year, so we've been kind of in view 1. I think we really need to, as our field marketing team has kind of taken it over, to grow it. Our team was only able to do one or two a month with the lift that it took to do these events, because it wasn't just like at an office. We found really cool venues for it. We did one in an air hanger.

BRANDON:

Oh wow.

CHRIS:

Right. So, there's a lot of technical needs for it. I love that our field marketing team has been able to take it and grow it, and I think we've done well over a hundred of them at this point worldwide. It's cool to get photos from like Japan. Camp Rubrik Japan, and they've done like four of them there.

BRANDON:

Oh, wow.

CHRIS:

It's been in Australia. It's been in India. It's been all over the world.

BRANDON:

You did a hundred of them in just-

CHRIS:

At least a hundred of them.

BRANDON:

In a year?

CHRIS:

Yeah.

BRANDON:

Wow.

CHRIS:

If not more. I probably should go in and get the actual number, but at least a hundred of them. The return on our investment for them have been, it's been great.

BRANDON:

When we talk about positioning an event like this to get people to come and it's exciting, it's fun, it's this immersive thing, talked about venue. How else are you getting this in front of potential attendees and saying, "Hey, you should check this out?"

CHRIS:

Our relationship with our sales team is great here at Rubrik. We're very lucky to have that. They are an extension of the marketing team, and we really want to make sure that when we invite people to these things they're not just email blasts to a database. We want someone to feel like this is a personalized experience for them, and we're going to talk about empathy, and stuff like that, in a little bit, but really having that person in mind, the person we're going to invite to this event, and making sure that when they are invited it comes from a human.

A lot of the people that attend these events are people that we know already and we want to bring in, and so we'll invite them. Our sales team will invite them, and our field marketing team will invite them, as well. With Camp Rubrik we've done a database blast in terms of like, "Hey, we're starting this. If you're interested talk to us about it." But, all of the invites, and the people that have attended, have come from a personalized invite.

BRANDON:

You say all prospects. Do you ever have any customers get into the mix as well?

CHRIS:

The way that the event is set up is that there's some fireside chats, there's some kind of keynote-style speaking, as well. We'll have a customer come in and also speak about their experience with Rubrik, and not just with Rubrik, but as a whole, their career background, the things that they've learned along the way. They're getting valuable insights out of it, as well. Rubrik fits into that, naturally, and so we get people, like prospects, get to hear from a customer about why it's working for them.

We target early-stage prospects for this. If you're a later stage, you probably have seen the product, you've probably worked with it. Those early ones probably haven't and so we really wanted to target them, but we do have customers come in who are looking, "Hey, the guy next to me works with it all the time. I haven't had the opportunity to sit with it yet." We give them that experience so that now there's two people on a team enabled to work with Rubrik.

BRANDON:

And, of course, he gets to take part in this big experience, go to cool venues, get badges, which I think that's so cool. I feel like there's a completion as part of me that would want to get all of the badges.

CHRIS:

Yeah, yeah. So, our technical marketing team that we have here, they created a 75-page guide that they have an hour to go through. So, you don't want to rush it, but you want to get through it. You want to get all the badges. We give you a backpack. It's a really cool camping backpack. You throw the badges on it, you get your lab guide, get your T-shirt. We hook them up, they're swag. There's some serious swag involved here. To be able to complete it is totally ... Everyone gets through it. It's great. What's cool, too, is like, "Hey, if you have a question, Hey, well raise your hand. Our SE will come over and we'll do a one-to-one with you." We'll just talk with you and just have a personalized experience. That's what Camp Rubrik is all about is that personalized experience.

BRANDON:

The last thing I'd like to talk about with this event is how long is it? Is it a half day event? Full day?

CHRIS:

It's about three hours. Naturally, in Rubrik fashion we have happy hour after, and there's cocktails, and Apps, and stuff like that. We want to make sure, again, that the networking is a huge part of the reason why people come to events. They want to meet people. They want to hear about what other people are working on. That's in all the events that we do, not even just Camp Rubrik but trade shows and stuff we always find ways to bring that in, because we want other people to meet folks in the industry that they can learn from and grow from, as well. So, it's really important that we have that piece as well. So, it's about three hours. If you want to stay for happy hour about four.

BRANDON:

Afternoon, then it kind of goes into the evening?

CHRIS:

Yep, exactly. Get home in time for dinner. It's important. We actually talked about that. We're like, "We should do it in the middle of the day." Late enough in the day that you can leave work and it's not terrible, but early enough where you're going to get home for dinner.

BRANDON:

Just hearing you talk about all this right now, you're really thinking about the experience from the attendee's perspective. So, getting to empathy. How do you think about the concept of empathy with an experience like Camp Rubrik, and elsewhere?

CHRIS:

As marketers in general it's our job to step into someone else's shoes. I am very different than someone who might be attending one of my events, and I needed to be able to put myself in the back seat and think about what this person is going to want. I think just in personal relationships, too, we want to feel seen, heard, understood, whether it's a friendship, or a relationship, or something like that. When we're talking about business, and we're talking about marketing, those people want to feel the exact same way. They want to feel like this business and this brand understands what I want, the issues that I'm having and how are they going to solve them, or help solve them? You know, we can't solve everything but we can do our best. At the end of the day we just want people to feel like Rubrik gets them. So, when we're creating experiences at Rubrik we want people to feel like they're at home, or they feel comfortable with us, and that they feel like we're addressing all of those needs that they want.

That's really important for us to be thinking in my role, and my team's role, as we're crafting these experiences, whether it be a sponsored show, or a Rubrik Forward, which we'll talk about in a little bit, that we're thinking about the person that's going to be at the event. That's the first thing that we need to think about.

BRANDON:

Let's talk about some more of these events, starting with VMworld. I know that VMworld is this global conference for virtualization and cloud computing, that Rubrik has traditionally had a very strong presence at. This is an event where it's not really a hosted event for Rubrik, but you end up creating still a very like tailored to the attendee experience for folks who come. How do you think about your investment at VMworld, and what does that look like?

CHRIS:

What's cool about VMworld, specifically, is that before I even came the team at Rubrik had been investing heavily in it, because VMware puts on an awesome conference, and they're a great partner of ours. The people that attend that event are the people that we want to have a conversation with. Before we even had a product that was GA, the team here at Rubrik, the very small team at the time, had invested in very top-level sponsorship. It was just a total brand awareness thing. We don't even have a product really to show you. Here's some kind of preview of it. Then, it's been the same every year. We've had the same sponsorship for five years, which is awesome.

So, for me to be able to come in with my experience and say, "Well, I have this awesome platform of VMworld and right now it's our bread and butter event that we go to." How do we just up-level the experience? So, I didn't have to bootstrap anything. The team had the DeLorean from Back to the Future in the booth the year before I came.

BRANDON:

Yeah, yeah, the car.

CHRIS:

Yeah, exactly. That was just their idea to just like get people to come by. So, we had already done a lot of this fun stuff, and for me it was like, "Oh wow, now I just get a chance to make it better, like cool." VMworld has become the central trade show that we go to every year, and there are a lot of other trade shows as we expand our product that are also going to be like that at some point. To this point that's kind of where we've announced a lot of things. We've won eight Best of VMworld awards, and as much as I would like to take credit for it's the best booth, or something like that, no, it's the product, and we submit a product. In EMEA it's a customer reference and we've won a few of those as well.

VMworld has been really important to the company. It's been really important that we invest in it, and that we create experiences for people at VMworld from a brand awareness standpoint. Our ROI numbers speak for itself. The more we invest in it the more we get out of it. That's been really cool for me. So, we've started having bigger booths, and we've had a second booth where we did some charity basketball courts. We've thrown parties, and we've had countless dinners, and happy hours, and breakfasts, and we make trading cards for people that are Vexperts, and we've done all these things around VMworld, specifically, because the more we put into it the more we're going to get out of it, which is really cool. That doesn't happen with every event.

BRANDON:

It's great that you're able to see looking at the data that this is successful, let's pour more gasoline on it.

CHRIS:

Yeah.

BRANDON:

Let's go.

CHRIS:

Totally. I mean, honestly, I have to thank VMware for giving us the ability to do all these things. They've been so gracious with us. Honestly, it's been good for them, too, because now more people are getting involved, and they want to do all these things, and VMworld is a very fun conference now. There are a lot of parties. There are a lot of good times to be had at that event. Again, to your point about investment. All the time we're looking in Salesforce, we're looking at numbers, we're following up with our inside sales team. We're doing all of this stuff, as well. We're not just throwing big parties and just having a good time. No, there's a lot of data that goes behind it, and we live in that, and we need to be strategic about our investment. But the reason why we're making it is because the numbers have shown that they're there. There are a lot of new prospects to meet, there are a lot of current customers that are there that we want to meet, and it's a really good opportunity for us to grow the business.

BRANDON:

When we're talking about the numbers right there, are you seeing that there are deals that are people from an account are showing up here and further down the line becoming a customer? What sort of metrics are you using to guide your decision making?

CHRIS:

We look at a lot of different things depending on the event. As the company, we never really had this issue before but it's such a young company. New leads is never a thing that we had to struggle with, because we were a first-time sponsor at a lot of these events, or maybe second or third. Now we're getting into like the fourth, fifth, sixth year of being at events, and so the numbers start to shift a little bit from maybe first-touch opportunities, to last-touch opportunities, to multi-touch opportunities. We need to look across the board to paint a picture of how well the event is doing. In each event you have to take with a case-by-case basis of saying, Hey, this is our first time event, so I want to look at net new leads. Hey, this is my sixth time at this event, so maybe I'm going to look at meeting set and then look at multi-touch.

The people that are coming to these events probably go year over year. There's definitely some new opportunities in VMworld, for example. But, as we continue to grow and as VMworld continues to happen every year and we continue to go back, those people are going to start coming into our funnel in different ways. They might go to a field marketing event next, because now that they've heard of us at VMworld. So, we need to look at multi-touch, which is important, too. For me, last touch is also great because I know if an opportunity converts from a prospect right after my trade show, I'm probably doing something right, as well. They had a good experience there. That's really important for me to look at, as well.

BRANDON:

It's really interesting how you are looking at, just in this case one event with a great deal of fluidity, and evolving your understanding of that event over time. I think in some cases if a company is younger you might look at something simple like leads, and then eventually you're looking at something that's a little bit more complicated like engaged in counts or Pipeline from a first-touch basis, or something like that. But the fact that you're looking at it from different perspectives, and the fact that there's different angles to it. When you're going into an event like VMworld and say it's the fourth or fifth year you've been there, that decision to evaluate the success differently is that something that comes from say like the revenue team, the marketing team, or how are you working with your other teams to determine how we're going to measure the success of this?

CHRIS:

Our global events team moved under Demand Gen recently. It's been great. I feel like I've learned a lot from that experience. A DG team, again, lives in Salesforce, like that's their world. I've learned a lot from my new boss and the team that I work with now. Those Pipeline numbers all come from corporate marketing, and our head of corporate marketing here he lives in Pipeline, like that's his world, so all that, Again, we can get into how it's set and Pipeline coverage and things like that, but-

BRANDON:

A whole other conversation.

CHRIS:

Exactly. For seeing and understanding the event as a whole, and seeing the success and the ROI of the event, that's something that we pull as a team, as the events team, and we working with the rest of the marketing team, and the marketing operations, to pull together.

BRANDON:

More in terms of cross-team collaboration, how else are you working with different teams to execute an event like Camp Rubrik, or your presence at VMworld?

CHRIS:

What I love about events, and I was just talking about this with someone, is that we are in a role where we touch every part of the company. There's not a team that we don't work with at some point, all the way from engineering, product, sales ops, marketing operations, creative. We work with everyone. That's what I love about events as a whole, and as a marketer to be able to work cross functionally that's something I thoroughly enjoy, and our whole team enjoys, which is great.

Anytime we have an event we have to sit down almost with everyone at some point to figure out how we're going to be able to pull this off, because everyone's going to be involved in some way. So, if we take VMworld, for example, if we have to have a product that's GA, in order to submit it for best of VMworld, we have to get that done, and we need to kind of like light a fire under them to get that done in time so that our PR team can submit the Best of the VMworld award. We work with creative because we need to be able to design the booth, and we have an agency, obviously, that helps with that, as well. But, we need to think about, if we're crafting this message with where we are as a company how do we then create that message into an experience? We have to work with product marketing, and with creative, and with our Demand Gen team. We talk about like pre-event emails, post event recaps.

There's so many people that we meet with, which is the beauty of events in my mind. We actually get to work with everyone all the time, otherwise the event isn't a success. If we tried to do everything on our own we're not going to get it done.

BRANDON:

You mentioned that it's specifically for Camp Rubrik it's all about those one-on-one outreaches?

CHRIS:

Yep.

BRANDON:

How are you keeping your account managers, your sales folks, accountable for it and making sure that they're participating, they're helping drive additional attendees?

CHRIS:

What's great about Rubrik here, too, is marketing has been valued since day one as a whole. It comes from everyone. It's not like our sales team don't see the value of it at all. They feel very much like a burden when something's not working well. So, we're giving them the tools, and the resources, to be able to extend those invites, and then we're working with our field marketers who manage the relationships, the day-to-day relationship with our sales team based on the region, in order to fulfill goals. We'll set goals for things. I think if you're in sales you have a natural competitive nature to yourself, as well, and so you don't want to see yourself not hit a target. It's great that we're in a place here that we have great relationships with our sales team in order for them to hit those, let's say either Pipeline goals, or attendee goals, and they take it upon themselves to really do that. It's our job, though, to give them the resources to be enabled to do that.

BRANDON:

Let's jump forward to Rubrik Forward, which is going to be your first hosted user conference. It's scheduled for May 2020. You already have some great speakers scheduled. It's on Minhaj, Patriot Act for those who haven't checked it out. What is top of mind for you as you continue preparing for this event?

CHRIS:

You have a lot of very cool backgrounds here and a lot of people with different experience coming into one place to work, and you have a lot of people here who have been to conferences, worked at conferences, helped build conferences. We're all coming together to create a conference that we think does Rubrik justice, and we want to make sure that everything that we hate about other conferences we don't do; everything that we love about conferences we try to uplevel a little bit, or replicate. We're really thinking about the attendee experience. One of those things that we've been really keeping in mind is not only do we want to have a great conference, and we want to have a lot of people there, of course, but we don't want to try to go too big too fast. We want to create an event that our customers, and some prospects, as well, but mainly our customers and partners, are going to have a great time at an experience where they feel like someone put thought into exactly from the moment they step foot into the hotel, and at the conference, to the moment they left.

Of course, like we talked about, we want people to have fun. That's great, too. At the end of the day this comes down to content, and we want to make sure that people are leaving Rubrik Forward, not just with Rubrik knowledge but things that are going to help them grow their career. So, we talk about like negotiation skills. We talk about hypergrowth teams, and scaling teams that are growing really fast, and manager techniques. Then, of course, we're going to get into the technical stuff, as well. Ransomware is a hot topic right now. There's things that we're going to be discussing as a thought leader, and you're going to have a lot of people here that are speaking to breakout sessions, and keynote sessions, that are ... You're going to leave feeling really inspired and really knowledgeable at the end of the conference, which is great, because we have those people internally here who are also reaching out to people externally to help build the conference, too. So, there's this group of people coming together to create this really well-crafted experience.

BRANDON:

I love that mix of content that is focused on, soft skills like negotiation, or managing a team. I think that's absolutely essential, and sort of mixing that with some of the technical skills, as well. Looking at Rubrik Forward you mentioned that there are going to be customers, and prospects, there. Two questions for you. One, specifically what sort of audience are you hoping to speak to there? Then, the second question is, when you look at content programming, this mix of soft and technical skills, what is the ideation process like?

CHRIS:

The people that we're trying to get ... I mean, obviously, this is a user conference so we want people that are invested in Rubrik already to come. We also want people that are interested in Rubrik to come, as well.

BRANDON:

Sure. So I mean, are they more sort of executives?

CHRIS:

Exactly. The goal around Rubrik Forward was to build something for everyone. We didn't want someone who, like only a certain group of people could attend the event. We wanted to make sure that if you're a VP we have content for you. If you're an admin there's content for you. We want to make sure that no matter who's coming to the event that they have a full two days' worth of knowledge that they're going to get from the event, and content that they're going to get from the event. So, it could be hands on labs. We're going to actually have Camp Rubrik there. It could be certification processes. It could be round tables. There's going to be a lot of smaller things happening at the event itself, which will provide a lot of value. So, it doesn't matter whether you're an entry level or you're an executive at the same time,

BRANDON:

I imagine there are going to be some balancing of stages, and spaces, and breakout rooms, and all of that. When you are thinking of content that is going to be interesting to these different audiences how did you sort of end up with this mix of soft and technical skills?

CHRIS:

I think one of the ... We touched on it earlier, too, is just working cross functionally. As an events team you kind of get to work with everyone, which is great. At the end of the day we need experts in certain areas to come in and really build out content and things that they know are going to work well with our audience. So, we call it the small council. It's a Game of Thrones reference, if you know that. You know, Tiger Team, or whatever, that gets overused, or something like that. So, we call ourselves a small council.

There's a team here that have been selected, basically, to help us build this whole thing. From a content perspective, we have one person who manages the technical track and one person who manages the business track, and then from them their teams are involved in it. There's a lot of people involved in it, but we want to make sure that there's at least someone who's leading the team, and they have the experience, and the right mindset, coming into the event knowing, "Hey, this is exactly what the attendees are going to need."

BRANDON:

Let's talk about agencies for a second. You have a small but mighty team that is executing all these, it's around 50 events across the world. Could you share a little bit more about agency partners specifically assisting your team and getting stuff done?

CHRIS:

At the end of the day, we need an agency to come in and help us with some of the day to day stuff, but not only that it's not just task work that we need an agency for. We need someone who's going to be a partner and help us build something and is not only just doing it because they get a check at the end of it, or something like that, but they feel like they're invested in it, as well. That's crucial for me as I'm thinking about agency partners in general is not who's the cheapest. I don't want to pay someone the least amount of money to do work. That's not a good way to do business. I want someone who's going to come in and feel like they own this just as much as me. I actually love when an agency pushes back on me and tells me, "I don't think that's going to work. Hey, have you thought about this?" It's not just like a yes man type of thing, it's someone who feels like they are an extension of our events team. That's what I want in an agency partner.

For Rubrik Forward, we have a great one. They're based out of San Diego and we make sure we're constantly communicating over Slack, and email, and they're coming up here, and we're going down there. When we were building this we wanted to make sure that we selected the right agency, because that makes the world of difference, and we need someone who has experience building other types of events but also understands who Rubrik is and what we're trying to accomplish. That's really important too. If they don't have that piece they're not going to do a good job. We needed to make sure that they were onboarded and understand our brand, understand what our mission is. and what our goals are for the event, and it's not just us telling them what to do. We want them to come to the table with ideas, as well, and we want them to feel like they are part of our team.

BRANDON:

Looking back at your experience are there any sort of key lessons that you may have learned along the way?

CHRIS:

For sure. I'm naturally a creative person, I like to think. I love being in Adobe, and Photoshop, and illustrator, and designing things, and providing direction on that, and providing guidance. When you do that too much sometimes an agency can feel like their opinion doesn't matter. You want to make sure that you give them the space, and the freedom, to do what they do best. They work at an agency for a reason, they're creative people. We want to make sure that they flex those skills, and they have the ability to come to the table with those things. When you keep pushing and pushing a little bit too much sometimes on, "Hey, we want things this way, this way, and this is the only way we want it," that can put you in a kind of a bad position, because then they're not as creative anymore. They think they don't have as much input anymore. Being able to have it more conversational and say, "Hey, have you thought about this?" Taking a step back even and saying, "What do you guys think?" Even though maybe you have a goal in mind, or the way that things should be, the ability to just sit back a little bit and let them come to the table ends up working out really well, because a lot of the time they have really good ideas. You don't want to keep pushing them back because that's a bad move.

BRANDON:

Well, it sounds like that approach is working, a lot of successful events. I know that working with some agencies you've gotten a number of different awards, as well, from Best Booth to some of the other awards we touched on.

CHRIS:

It's been great. I think ideally in some world you may just want to have one agency that does everything for you, and sometimes that doesn't work. At the end of the day sometimes you need multiple, and so here we work with two different agencies. We have one agency that helps out with our trade show program and one that helps out with our live production program, and that's worked really well for us. At the end of the day you have to know what's best for your business. We have two experts in two different fields who probably could do each other's work, as well, but we know what they're capable of and what the work that they do, and how important it does to us to be at a certain level that we kind of keep it separate, which is great. It works for us.

BRANDON:

Jumping back to empathy, we talked about how you think about empathy when you're looking at attendees. Sounds like there's also a great deal of empathy that's going in the way that you approach your partnership with agencies. How about with your own team internally?

CHRIS:

One of the things I've had to learn here is that, and I feel like I maybe haven't got this in the past and which is why I really wanted to make sure I communicate it clearly, is I'm not managing a team, I'm managing people, and you have to manage each person on your team differently because they're all very different people. You can't just clump people in, just like we can't put someone's job title on them and just define that for them, you have to think about the person.

So, as someone who's managing a team I need to think about, what does this person want to do with their career? What does this person want to accomplish while they're in this role? Where do they want to be in five years? Then, how do they like feedback? How do they want to be spoken to? How do they want to get to that next step? That's my job at the end of the day is to help them get there. Sometimes that means, unfortunately, maybe the end result of where they want to be isn't here, and that's fine. That's my job is to help you get there. So, we need to take a step back from our selfishness to say like, "Hey, if this person leaves, or does something different, that's going to affect me because I'm going to have to do more work, or something like that." That's not a great way to go about things either.

I want to make sure with my team, and whoever ends up I'm working with, I just want to make sure that they feel like I'm helping them get to where they want to be, and if they want to be here for a really long time I want to make sure that happens. Sometimes, again, that means they end up doing something different, or they want to stay on this team for a really long time, how do I make sure that you're feeling fulfilled at work? That's really important for me to keep in the back of my head, despite some of the needs, and the things that I have, as well. I have to keep them at the forefront of my mind to make sure that they're doing fulfilling work at the end of the day, so they go home at the end of the day and say, "I accomplished something, I did something, and I'm moving in a direction where I want to go."

BRANDON:

That's great., and it's difficult.

CHRIS:

It is hard. It's not easy. It's way easier said than done. For sure because we're humans. We have things that bother us, things that stress us out. I have more gray hair now than I've ever had in my life, but I am still young. Why do I have this much gray hair? I keep seeing them every day. But, I want to make sure that if you're here, and you're working with me, and we're on a team, that this is the place that you want to be at. If it's not anymore let me help you get somewhere.

BRANDON:

It sounds like you've put a lot of thought into empathy, and checking yourself, and trying to be aware of those shortcomings, and being aware of what other people are thinking and their own individual journeys.

CHRIS:

You also need that transparency from the other person, too. In order to be transparent with someone you have to be comfortable with that person, and that's a working relationship, so you don't need to get like too into things. I'm going to be honest with you if you're honest with me, and at the end of the day make our relationship better, our working relationship better.

BRANDON:

Are there any role models you've had, books you've read, movies you've seen ...

CHRIS:

Don't bring up Hobbs & Shaw again. I'll go on for 45 minutes.

BRANDON:

... that have sort of informed this approach?

CHRIS:

Yeah, it's Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson. I'm totally joking. Just thinking about people that have done awesome work, or influenced the way that I want to go about my life. Do you know who Scott Harrison is?

BRANDON:

No.

CHRIS:

He started Charity Water? It's actually based in New York. I listened to Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. Do you listen to that? That's a good one?

BRANDON:

Yeah, I've heard it is.

CHRIS:

This is a great podcast, too, but that's a really good podcast. He was on ... He explained how he came to starting Charity Water, and he was in the nightclub industry. He was throwing big parties for celebrities and just kind of living a life that was very selfish he felt like. So, he started Charity Water after taking some time off. He started Charity Water because he felt like, "Hey, I have a platform, and there's something that I'm good at here, and I know that I can create a difference in what I'm doing by starting this and leaving what's comfortable. So, for me as I've been thinking about my life, too, is being uncomfortable is totally okay, and it's actually necessary in order to grow, because as soon as you're comfortable you're not trying hard enough. You need to be uncomfortable. You need to be able to learn things. So, Scott took on a task to try to end the water crisis, which is something that I'm very passionate about, as well, and so it's something that I do on the side outside of work. I've really enjoyed hearing him talking about his experience from saying, "Hey, I was doing this thing that I was very comfortable in, and I stepped into the unknown and it's been the best thing that's ever happened to me."

So, as I live my life I just want to gut check myself and say, "Hey, am I stepping out of the comfort zone and moving into a place that I feel uncomfortable, but it's really going to help me grow?" His brand, and his mission with Charity Water was to, obviously, stop the world water crisis, which is a huge issue, but also get people to want to be involved with charity work. The way that he set it up was for skeptical people. He wanted people that were skeptical about giving to charity to be the person that gives to charity. In the podcast with Dax, Dax writes him a check. He's like, "You convinced me," because the way he set up the model of his business worked for him.

So, as we're thinking about what our brand is at Rubrik, or in any company you're with, what's your personal brand? What is the brand you're working for? Is it something you feel comfortable with? Is it something you align with? That's really at the end of the day what's really important to me. So, I've really used him as a role model recently of how he's been able to communicate that to the rest of the world, as well.

BRANDON:

Amazing. Well thanks. That's our time for today. If folks want to keep up with what you're doing, they want to keep up with Rubrik, how can they keep a touch?

CHRIS:

Social media? Twitter, LinkedIn is big. We're not on Instagram. I'm going to talk with our content team about that. There's something about, apparently Instagram is not going to work, but we're on Twitter. You can follow us. We tweet all the time. We tweet about all of our events and information where we're at. This week we're at Amazon Reinvent. Any details you need on event marketing, or anything like that, you can follow us on Twitter. We'll be live on that. Rubrik Forward, there's a handle for now, too, as well, if you're interested in attending Rubrik Forward. That's forward.rubrik.com to check it out. Anything with corporate news you can follow us along on rubrik.com.

BRANDON:

Thanks so much, Chris.

CHRIS:

No problem.

BRANDON:

Once again, a huge thanks to Chris for joining us, and thank you for listening. I was totally floored by Chris's words on leading with empathy not only within his team but also in the way that he approaches live events, from designing hands on experiences that really give attendees the chance to see and use what would otherwise be an abstract idea, to providing creative swag like beautifully designed backpacks and badges. I'm a big fan of the badges, to really thinking about the takeaways that attendees would want to leave with. There is just a great deal of putting oneself in the attendee's shoes that really stuck with me. It's a great reminder of what it's like to design experience with a specific person in mind, and how creative and fun that can be. You can find a full transcript of the show, along with key takeaways for it, in addition to our library of episodes so far at inpersonpodcast.com. Until next time, I'm Brandon Rafalson. This has been IN-PERSON, and you deserve a badge.