“To all the important decision makers out there — whether executive or political — de-prioritizing sleep is resulting in lots of bad decisions that are hurting society and the economy. A recent Forbes article cites that most CEOs are getting an average of 4–6 hours of sleep per night, which means they are highly sleep deprived and making poor decisions. My movement? #GetMoreSleep #ThatMeansYou”
I had the pleasure to interview Lisa Tan the CMO at Reverie
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in New Mexico in an academic, creative environment, and went on to college at Princeton with a major in psychology. My professional experience is in PR, publishing and management consulting across a wide range of industries and business issues, with focus on marketing growth or optimization. I started my career during the recession of 2001, which resulted in having four different jobs in two years. As challenging as that was, it was actually a great way to cut my teeth on the reality of business and adulthood.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began working as CMO for Reverie?
One day I brought my three year old to work and was conducting a departmental meeting in the boardroom while she sat next to me. It was very quiet and I was saying something serious and important. Then everyone started giggling and I turned around and realized that she was drawing on the wall. Oops!
What do you think makes Reverie stand out? Can you share a story?
At Reverie, we sell sleep — not sleep systems. Truly. Some brands do a fantastic job marketing sleep vs mattresses, but when it boils down to proof, they don’t have the engineering, science and customer service chops that we have. We aren’t confined to “how it’s always been,” and this is something you’ll see in everything from our marketing campaigns to how we approach product development. For example, the “Bed of the Future” we showcased at CES in January 2018 highlights how we think sleep technology will be integrated into the bedroom. Our prototype included mind-control to adjust the bed (yes, seriously!), voice activation, and directional speakers that pipe white noise and other audio for your ears only on each side of the bed. Consumer behaviors and expectations are rapidly changing, and we are paying attention.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Yes! In order to truly fulfill our mission to help people live healthier lives through better sleep, we’ve launched Reverie Sleep Coach. Offered in digital only and personal consultation formats, Reverie Sleep Coach assesses people’s sleep health and sleep goals with a short quiz, recommends individualized sleep tips to support those sleep goals, and holds you accountable for sticking to your goals. Think personal trainer for sleep. We developed the program for a few reasons:
1) The majority of adults in developed countries are consistently sleep deprived, and it’s resulting in a lack of productivity ($400B+ annual productivity loss in the U.S., per the Rand Corporation) and contributing to many critical health epidemics right now (e.g., obesity, diabetes, mental health).
2) Many customers we see are purchasing new mattresses because they are not sleeping well, thinking it will solve their sleep issues. But the truth is a mattress alone won’t necessarily fix feeling tired if you don’t practice healthy sleep habits, just like buying fancy running shoes doesn’t make you a marathon runner. We’ve launched the program direct to consumer atreveriesleepcoach.com as well as with a few retail partners across the U.S..
What advice would you give to other CMOs to help their employees to thrive?
Take the extra time to explain the business to your team. Marketing teams are usually comprised of very diverse thinkers — from the very creative to the more analytical to the account management types. So when ideas are developed by the team, it’s really important that they are grounded in the business objectives driving them, and that every member of the team understands their impact on those business objectives. Sometimes it takes a little extra explaining to help a creative person tie ROI to their concept, or a digital marketer to open up to testing an experiential event that impacts consumers farther up the funnel. Making the business impact a central objective throughout the creative process has resulted in more relevant work for us.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’d like to give a nod to my parents. They raised me to be a problem solver, which has helped me adapt to personal and professional surprises along the way, and gave me the resources and education to solve problems without telling me the answers. I can think of several instances as I grew up where a request for something — clothes, spring break money, etc. would be met with a definitive “no.” I learned to appreciate my parents’ priorities (education, safe and healthy home, travel) and prioritize and work to earn the extras.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try to live every day with gratitude. One of my passion causes right now intersects professional and personal interests: healthy sleep habits for children. I sit on the board of the non-profit Sweet Dreamzzz, which is an organization committed to improving the health, well-being, and academic performance of at-risk school-age children by providing sleep education and bedtime essentials. I also provide volunteer and financial support to groups that support women’s rights and empowerment, the environment and early childhood development.
What are five things you wish someone told you before you became CMO, and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1- Every day you will encounter something unexpected. When you begin your day, never assume you know how it’s going to end. There is always an unexpected visitor or call from a customer with a good (or bad) surprise.
2 — Show gratitude to your team. It’s easy to get caught up in the grind of tight deadlines and high expectations and overlook the opportunity to raise up your team through recognition. One of my colleagues made a commitment several months ago to recognize three people every single day, and it has had a huge impact on his team’s morale. It inspired me to do the same.
3 — Never make work an excuse for lost family time. There will always be more work to be done and it will be tempting to let yourself make excuses for canceling personal and family obligations to finish your work. But once you start going down that path, you’ll never return. Set clear expectations for yourself and others so that you are not regularly missing out on family commitments (or letting them creep into family time; i.e., accepting phone calls at dinner time).
4 — There is no such thing as work-life balance. Only balance. If you try to separate the two, you’ll end up frustrated and unhappy. I came to this realization over the course of this past year and it has made me a much happier and more present mother and professional because I’m not always feeling guilty for being focused on the wrong thing at the wrong time. It’s helped me become comfortable integrating all parts of my life. If you want to know the truth, I’m actually writing this response on a plane en-route to a trade show… with my two-year-old as travel companion!
5 — Communicate! Be proactive in your communications. Start the conversation. In my role I have access to a lot of information that helps inform decisions. I often forget that others might not have as much access to information. If I want to power my team to make decisions, I need to give them access to information, which requires consistent and open communication from me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
To all the important decision makers out there — whether executive or political — de-prioritizing sleep is resulting in lots of bad decisions that are hurting society and the economy. A recent Forbes article cites that most CEOs are getting an average of 4–6 hours of sleep per night, which means they are highly sleep deprived and making poor decisions. My movement? #GetMoreSleep #ThatMeansYou
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Sarah Lacy, founder of Pando and more recently, founder of Chairman Mom, a subscription community for working moms. I admire her pursuit of equality and very candid observations of status quo in Silicon Valley. And I look forward to finding the delivery of the Chairman Mom newsletter in my inbox every day — it resonates more than anything I’ve come across. I would love to discuss the opportunity to continue pushing the conversation beyond Silicon Valley over brunch.