The Little Moments and Opportunities

How one client pitch changed the course of my career.

Last night I went to Bond Bar in the Mission District of San Francisco; one of my favorite places to unwind, grab a drink, and chat with the Northwest-native bartenders. With me was Rob, a best friend who knows me inside-and-out. I’m staying with him and his wife as I get settled in the by area.

We met in the same matter as a lot of people met their best friends…you start something new and happened to sit next to them. Rob and I sat next to each other at New Employee Orientation (NEO) when we both started at ExactTarget, the most dominant email marketing platform which was later acquired by Salesforce (now known as the Marketing Cloud).

“Remember when Brett and Sameer flew us out for that pitch?” Rob asked.

(These two being Brett Brewer, our director at the time, and Sameer Kazi, who was at the time Senior Vice President — Global Services & Support)

I chuckled… “Oh man, do I remember…”

We looked at each other in affirmation that it was one of those little moments that have really helped us in our career.

About seven or eight years ago, our director Brett emailed us and asked us to come to Indianapolis, ExactTarget’s HQ. We were asked to represent our functional team for a client pitch, who is a very popular airline. Rob and I were definitely not the most senior people at the time. In fact, we were still pretty young in our career from an experience standpoint.

When we arrived, the room was already full of other team members, from directors, the solutions consulting team, and then us. This was some serious business. They were already in the war room working on the pitch. The eye-opening moment for us was the realization of how much effort and care it takes to do something right.

“Whoa, this is a pre-meeting for the meeting.” I said to Rob.

As the director of solutions consulting would work on a key point in the pitch, a designer would already be working on the deck to reflect that change.

These little things may sound obvious to us now, but at the time, they were such great moments to learn and be immersed amongst professionals.

We were asked to speak as well to represent our campaign solutions team. Never once have I pitched to a client, and here I am asked to do this on a high-stakes project. Looking back, I think there were two reasons we were asked to do this. The first was that they wanted us to learn and grow from this experience and getting real time was the only way to do it. The second, I think, was that because of scheduling we were really one of few viable options, but we were expected to be prepared and elevate to that level.

It was our first client pitch but most definitely not our last one. Rob and I are both still in tech but different areas of focus. After a successful stint at Netflix, he returned to Salesforce in a principal role, and I have since moved on focusing on UX Design for mobile and emerging tech. This moment was something we both took and learned from the rest of our career.

When I pitch to clients or internal stakeholders, I often reminisce about that moment and opportunity that was given to us.

Thank you, Brett and Sameer, for giving us this small opportunity that has a continued impact in our careers today.