What Cultivating A Community Garden Plot Can Teach Us About Running A Startup

IMG_5229This year I cultivated a community garden plot in Boulder, CO, for the first time. I had previously never gardened before, and this experience has been an immensely rewarding one due to both the bounty of fresh homegrown veggies that have come from it as well as other less-tangible rewards reaped. I made a lot of mistakes and have learned a lot from this process and those who have helped me through it. As the summer growing season winds down, I have noticed striking parallels between gardening and startup life. Many garden-variety lessons are very applicable to working at startup. Here are a few of them.

Lesson: You may be unwittingly cultivating a weed.

There were two big plants growing in the east side of my plot I convinced myself were eggplants. I tenderly watered them, weeded around them, and ensured they got plenty of light. Once the “other” eggplants in the west side of my plot starting bearing real eggplants, while the east side eggplants still remained barren, I asked a knowledgeable fellow gardener about the situation. My fellow gardener politely informed me that I had been spending significant time and resources on…weeds!  I felt very silly. I didn’t know these were weeds when I so gingerly cared for them. And once I learned the truth, I had no choice but to pull them. Startup leaders: recognize that you may be putting a ton of energy towards a project, campaign or other resource you think is going to yield a return, only to realize down the line you have been growing a weed (or, in my case, two of them). The key is to remove that weed as soon as you find it; don’t let sunk costs of the various investments you have made in keeping this weed-in-disguise alive hold you back from removing it quickly once you see it for what it really is.

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

I don’t think any of my plants would have grown without the help of incredibly knowledgeable and generous gardener friends. The same is true for startups: finding mentors (board members, dedicated accelerator mentors, industry peers, and other entrepreneurs) along the journey is crucial for success. Asking for help all the time is key–and ideally, you’ll help others with what you’ve learned, too.

Lesson: Unfortunately, many weeds are hard to identify until they are big.

Many weeds, when small, look just like the things you are consciously trying to grow. Or, they are just too small to notice. Is that a kale sprout or a vine weed that’s going to one day grow to suck the life out of your melon plant? Is that actually an insidious pocket of “bro” culture happening in your engineering department masquerading as playfulness? Is it going to grow into a full-blown problem? Pay close attention to things that may or may not be weeds, and then address them out at the root as soon as you realize what they are.

Lesson: Weeds are much harder to pull once they are mature.

Another reason to address potential problems at your company as soon as possible: once weeds have grown, they’ve got much deeper roots and are that much harder to remove. Suddenly, what would have been an easy fix two quarters ago now becomes a much bigger (and usually more expensive) problem. Fix problems early to save a lot of pain.

Lesson: Place many bets, then ramp on what is working and jettison what is not.

I planted a lot of vegetables that did great this season—and a few that did not do so well. The melon plant only made one tiny, tasteless melon and then shriveled into a brown heap. But the cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, and squash have done brilliantly. So I focused on those and tried not to worry about what did not work. I made sure to pull out the melon plant when it turned brown and clearly wasn’t working rather than let it take any more nutrients from the garden.

Startup growth is all about experimentation. You are placing many bets across many channels, and then need to ramp on what works well, and then cut the resources from what is not working. 


Lesson: Recognize when something isn’t working anymore—and be willing to move on.

Related to the previous lesson, sometimes something is working well for a while, and then one day no longer does. I harvested lettuce from the same plants for much of the season. I cut back the lettuce leaves, and then, miraculously, they would grow back where the stumps were. Then one day, a fellow gardener came over to my plot and said, “did you know your lettuce has bolted? You won’t get any leaves from it at this point.” I had not realized this, but once I discovered it, I felt a little hesitant; was it really time to let these go? A flood of memories of the bounty from the summer came back. I had to face a fundamental truth about gardening and startups: sometimes things work amazingly and then, when the season or other conditions change, no longer do. So I pulled out those bolted lettuce plants and composted them. Lesson learned. What at your startup once was working but now longer is? Be willing to do what Ben Horowitz calls “the hard thing about hard things” and move on. 

Lesson: Planning ahead is everything.

The importance of this cannot be overstated: you really need to plan ahead for a garden or a startup to function properly. On a startup marketing team, for instance, annual planning ensures the maximum number of sales-qualified leads are created by budgeting and allocating the right amount of resources. By planning what goes where in your garden, you can ensure the right plants work together, and know ahead of time when things will grow.

Lesson: Control what you can and let go of what you cannot.

You can put a fence up for deer. You can cover the leaves of your tomato plants with diatomaceous earth to prevent aphid attack. You can water and weed diligently and properly cage your tomatoes. And sometimes, though you’re certain you’ve done everything you can to create the right conditions for growth—you still lose. It happens. Control what you can, move on from what you can’t.


Lesson: Assemble a great team and embrace community.

It may come as no surprise that community is the key to a community garden. I travel for work sometimes, and throughout the growing season have gone away for multi-week stretches, leaving my sweet garden behind. Luckily, I have great relationships with fellow gardeners—in particular, my amazing neighbor Rachel, whose plot is perhaps the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Rachel helps keep my garden alive (and thriving) when I’m not there. And the times when Rachel has been out of town, I have been honored to help care for her beautiful plants, too.  Our community garden team has taught me so much about how to care for the plants I’m growing. We share our knowledge and produce with each other, and help weed and water each other’s plots.

Startup leaders need to know that their team can back them up in case of absence or absence of attention. They also need to develop superb relationships with other companies, including their partners and customers, but also other companies within the ecosystem. Cultivate startup community and adopt what Brad Feld calls a “give first” mentality. That means watering other people’s plants without expecting them to do the same for you–knowing full well one day it all comes back around.

Lesson: Take pleasure in the process.

Many mundane garden activities have become a pleasure. I now look forward to removing weeds (obstacles), spending time watering (investing energy and resources), and deciding which squash blossoms to harvest when in order to maximize a few mature squash returns from the plant (analyzing the landscape and taking appropriate action). These basic tasks all bring me a lot of satisfaction. As startup leaders, we participate in and also get to watch our proverbial gardens grow—with pride. It is not always a joyful experience to be “in the weeds” of a startup, but there can be a lot of satisfaction gleaned from the effort. Where can you take pleasure in the process of running a startup?

Lesson: Share the glory

Arguably the best part about gardening is getting to share the bounty with those around you. Great leaders acknowledge how the efforts of their teams contribute to the wins. What are some fruits of your startup labor that you can share with your team, your customers, your partners, and your community?

Final Note

It is important to note that I have been growing the garden for fun and supplemental food rather than for subsistence. Things may have been different if I had been counting on the veggies to feed me and/or my family and it hadn’t worked out. Many founders put everything into their companies, and it’s hard to cut losses when everything is riding on your company succeeding. I’d be really curious to hear if this metaphor resonates with others in the startup world. Thank you for reading! Sarah

May 2016 Recap: Gainsight Pulse Conference, Boulder Startup Week And More

I have been part of the unique, dense, and constantly-evolving Boulder, CO startup ecosystem for nearly three years. During this time, I have had the privilege of working closely with a few local startups as clients through my former marketing consultancy. I currently work directly with several local companies who are sponsors and partners of the inclusivity-oriented tech meetup I founded, Flatirons Tech.

Boulder’s unofficial startup community ethos is “give first,” a phrase coined by local VC Brad Feld. This philosophy drives the entrepreneurial community here in Boulder, and is part of why the community is so dynamic despite its relatively small size and considerable distance from the heart of Silicon Valley.

Andrew Hyde, the founder of Boulder Startup Week, reached out to me earlier this year asking me to be on the Boulder Startup Week organizing committee and help run an event within the “Change The Ratio” track, which focuses, broadly, on startup culture and inclusivity. I said yes, and worked closely with many great people, including local startup SendGrid and Boulder Startup Week organizer Amy Button, to put on an event called “Creating Inclusive Startup Cultures” at SendGrid’s Boulder office. 

Panel speakers came from Silicon Valley and local tech community; ServiceRocket’s COO Erin Rand spoke at the panel, alongside QuickLeft’s Chris McAvoy and Gorilla Logic’s Rachel Beisdel, whom I spoke with on a panel last November as part of NewCo Boulder, and SendGrid’s Josh Ashton, with whom I work closely through Flatirons Tech meetup.

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ServiceRocket’s COO Erin Rand also spoke at an another event organized by SheSays Boulder on creative entrepreneurship. It was an awesome night of inspiration from  some of the best c-level talent in Boulder and beyond, who just happened to be women.


With ServiceRocket COO Erin Rand, A Featured Speaker At Boulder Startup Week 2016

I loved attending and helping shape Boulder Startup Week this year. I look forward to next year and continuing to be involved in its success.

Gainsight Pulse Conference And Customer Success Updates

Earlier in the month, I attended Gainsight Pulse Conference on behalf of ServiceRocket, who sponsored. This was my second time attending the awesome annual gathering of the Customer Success community, of which I am proud to be a part.


With Helping Sells Radio Co-Host Bill Cushard And Guest Emilia D’Anzica of WalkMe Recording An Episode Segment At Gainsight Pulse Conference 2016

We’ll be releasing several episode of Helping Sells Radio that include interviews with experts from the conference. In the meantime, here’s two episodes we launched during the conference featuring Customer Success experts Todd Eby and Catherine Blackmore

Named Top 100 Influencer In Customer Success By MindTouch and Customer Success A-Lister By Amity For 2016


I was honored to be included in MindTouch’s Top 100 Influencers In Customer Success among such amazing leaders in the industry. Thank you to MindTouch for including me.


I was also honored to be named A “Customer Success A-Lister” by Amity.

Helping Sells Radio Listed In “What’s Hot?” Section Of iTunesCjQttKbVEAA7JkG

The podcast I co-host,  Radio, was listed in “What’s Hot” section of iTunes in Tech podcast category. My co-host Bill Cushard and I have been speaking to more great technology experts, including Geoffrey Moore, Aaron Ross, and more.  Listen to past episodes.

Thank you for reading. -Sarah


Introducing Helping Sells Radio Podcast


I’m proud to be co-host of a new technology podcast called Helping Sells RadioHelping Sells Radio is a podcast about helping customers discover, adopt, and thrive using your software. In the inaugural episode of Helping Sells Radio, my co-host Bill Cushard and I talk about what Helping Sells Radio is, why we are doing a podcast, and what listeners can expect in upcoming episodes.

There are a lot of technology podcasts, but none that specifically address the topic of helping enterprise customers buy, adopt, and get the most out of the software they use. Even more specifically, there isn’t a podcast that talks about how this idea of helping customers, without expectation of reciprocation can actually help both customers and software vendors (or anyone that sells anything for that matter).

Helping sells can be summed up by looking at many of the areas in business where helping sells can help people thrive.

For example:

  • In Marketing: Create marketing that educates people to help them make a decision.
  • In Sales: Sales that challenges and helps prospects. Help prospects improve their own businesses.
  • In Consulting: Geoffrey Moore described it this way: Strategic acts of generosity.
  • In Customer Success: It is not about the renewal. It is about helping customers do their jobs better or otherwise achieve a desired outcome.
  • In Training: Not just teaching features, but education people on a new way of working.
  • In Support: Proactively helping customers with things they have not even asked about yet. Anticipating their needs and addressing those, but customers think to ask.

We plan for show guests in all of those areas to discuss their particular helping sells approach to technology and business. In our first few episodes, we talked to experts from Optimizely, Gainsight, Evernote, Zuora and more.


We’re also proud to announce that our podcast Helping Sells Radio currently ranks under “New and Noteworthy” for the categories of “Technology” and “Tech News” in iTunes! Thanks to everyone for listening and helping the show top the charts!

Listen To Helping Sells Radio Now

Year In Review: Reflections On A Spectacular 2015

From client acquisitions to speaking on several panels for the first time, to stepping away from my consulting business and becoming a full-time, proud Rocketeer, to helping grow the local diversity in tech group I founded in my home city of Boulder, CO, Flatirons LGBTQ Tech Meetup, to over 225 people, plus hosting and participating in a dozen local events in Boulder and beyond, 2015 has been a year to remember. Best of all, I’ve also had the privilege of working with some truly amazing people, companies, and mentors. To close out this memorable year, I thought I’d share some of highlights.

Three of My Clients Got Acquired–And Then One Of Them Acquired Me

Hiking near Los Altos with ServiceRocket CEO Robert Castaneda and VP of Enterprise Ray Bradbury the day after joining the company.

Hiking near Los Altos with ServiceRocket CEO Rob Castaneda and VP of Enterprise Ray Bradbery the day after joining the company.

Perhaps the biggest professional news of my year involved the extraordinary success of my clients. Among this list of successes included three acquisitions: Learndot, a Customer Education platform for Customer Success business sold to ServiceRocket in January 2015; Taxify (part of ShipCompliant), a Boulder, CO-based B2B tax automation SaaS was acquired by Sovos Compliance in April; and, most recently, Frontleaf, a Customer Success analytics platform was acquired by Zuora in May to become their Z-Insights product line. Read more about the acquisitions, and how thrilled I am to now be a Rocketeer at ServiceRocket.

Named One of MindTouch’s Top 100 Customer Success Influencers To Meet at Pulse 

Top 100 Customer Success Influencers at Pulse.

This year MindTouch unexpectedly listed me as a ‘Top 100 Customer Success Influencer to Meet at Pulse Conference.’ I was honored by the mention, and enjoyed connecting with others on the list as well as the uncounted numbers from incredible companies who deserved to be on here. Grab the PDF list of influencers on the MindTouch website.

Customer Success Twitter Chat Thrived

In 2014 I had this crazy idea to launch the first-ever Customer Success industry Twitter Chat (#CustomerSuccessChat) while consulting with Frontleaf (acquired by Zuora in May ’15). Frontleaf co-founders Tom Krackeler and Rachel English were totally on board, and together we launched the chat back in 2014, and in 2015, it really took off. The monthly twitter chat brought together Customer Success enthusiasts and practitioners to talk shop, share best practices, and discuss overcoming challenges.

The chats consisted of lively real-time discussions including a series of questions on one topic (onboarding, sales and customer success, etc.) leveraging the #CustomerSuccessChat hashtag Twitter. We asked subject experts to mark their calendars to guarantee a high-level discourse, and others from the world of software adoption and customer success were also invited to weigh in on. After the chats, the Frontleaf team and I compiled chat recap blogs highlighting the gems from each one. This one on Customer Success as growthhacking is my favorite. At the moment I’m not running the chat, but maybe some form of it will return in 2016.

Helped Launch The World’s First Customer Success Podcast

When Frontleaf asked me to devise a new channel to reach their target audience, I researched and created a plan to launch the Customer Success industry’s first-ever podcast exclusively dedicated to that topic. In early 2015, Customer Success Radio, the first-ever podcast about all things Customer Success and the cloud, hosted by Frontleaf co-founders Tom Krackeler and Rachel English launched to great acclaim. The show served as a phenomenal source of leads and buzz for the company. The podcast archives are really worth a listen. While the podcast is currently on hiatus, Tom and Rachel tell me they will hopefully continue the podcast in some form at Zuora.

The experience of creating a plan for a podcast from soup to nuts was invaluable, and the lessons learned along the way have been very helpful in the creation of the brand-new podcast Bill Cushard and I will be co-hosting through ServicerRocket Media. Look out for “Helping Sells Radio” podcast in the first quarter of 2016.

Grew Flatirons LGBTQ Tech Meetup

Flatirons LGBTQ Tech MeetupIn May 2014 I founded Flatirons LGBTQ Tech Meetup in an effort to increase diversity and inclusion in tech in Boulder, CO and beyond. In 2015, with the help of epic co-organizers, we hosted a dozen local events, became a NCWIT Affinity Group Alliance Member, and continued to be supported by our amazing sponsors SendGrid, Pivotal Tracker, Galvanize, and more. We even got a shout-out in the Denver Post and hosted an official Boulder Startup Week event. I’m so proud of the community we’ve built and are continuing to build here in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond. I look forward to working with more local companies and organizations and to hosting and participating in more events in 2016.

Moderated ServiceRocket’s “Helping Sells” Webinar Series

Throughout 2015 I loved moderating the webinars in ServiceRocket’s “Helping Sells” series alongside amazing host, ServiceRocket’s Head of Training and Director of Marketing, Bill Cushard. This year we interviewed industry leaders talking about customer education, customer success, software adoption, and more. Guests included expert GitHub trainer Peter Bell, Behavioral Design (Gamification) Expert Yu-Kai Chou, ClientSuccess Founder/CEO Dave Blake, and many other industry thought leaders. You can check out the archives and look out for more great webinars featuring all-star guests in 2016.

Spent A Month At ServiceRocket’s Office In Santiago, Chile

This year I had the incredible opportunity to spend a month working out of ServiceRocket’s office in Santiago, Chile. ServiceRocket is a major contributor to the growing startup community in Santiago, and it was a blast to join the team there to host and participate in events and work on projects together.


Enjoying empanadas with incredible ServiceRocket team in Santiago, Chile.


Hiking in the Andes near Santiago, Chile with ServiceRocket colleagues.

Was A Panelist At S-Factory Event In Santiago, Chile

In October, S-Factory accelerator, which is run out of Start-Up Chile, invited ServiceRocket’s Chief Operating Officer Erin Rand, accountant Noelia Rio and me to speak on a panel to discuss how we’re “rocking it”. I was honored to speak to the entrepreneurial audience about growth marketing, our company values, and how we approach software adoption and customer success. S-Factory Executive Director Patricia Hansen was an engaging moderator, and I really enjoyed participating as well as listening to and learning from insights shared by colleagues Erin and Noelia.


Speaking at S-Factory (part of Start-Up Chile) in Santiago in October 2015.


Participated In NewCo Boulder Diversity In Tech Panel


Speaking at NewCo Boulder “Diversity in Tech” panel in November, 2015

In November, I was a panelist on the “diversity and inclusion” panel at NewCo Boulder, hosted at Quick Left in Boulder alongside Quick Left’s VP of Engineering Chris McAvoy and Executive Leadership Coach Gerry Valentine, moderated by Rachel Beisel. I loved being a part of the discussion and getting to chat with people after who wanted to continue the conversations about “bringing your whole self to work.” I shared personal stories as well as lessons I’ve learned from working with Silicon Valley Women of Influence, ServiceRocket’s COO Erin Rand and VP of Marketing Colleen Blake, both of whom do amazing work to increase inclusion in tech. It was cool to hear that people enjoyed the panel and that QuickLeft may want us to recreate the panel again.Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 2.30.45 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2016-01-01 at 2.30.28 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2016-01-01 at 2.32.21 PM (1).jpg

Interviewed Hooked Author Nir Eyal With Bill Cushard

Sarah_graphic-05I helped crowdsource edit the book Hooked by behavior engineering expert Nir Eyal and have been a huge fan of his work for a while, so it was a big honor to get to interview him and Bill Cushard for ServiceRocket Media. It was an amazing discussion about behavior psychology, customer education and software adoption. Listen to the interview.

Looking Forward To 2016

I’m so grateful for the amazing people and companies with whom I had the privilege of working in 2015. Thank you to everyone who helped make this such a special year, and for being on this journey together.

I’m excited for what’s to come in 2016. In the first week of January, I’m headed to ServiceRocket’s office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for team building and to work on projects with our team in KL. ServiceRocket Media has some awesome projects in store including a brand-new podcast, epic webinars, and much, much more. Happy New Year! Thanks for reading. Sarah

Advice For Founders: Stop Running Your Startup “Like A Family”

Before joining the amazing company I work for now, I spent several years doing marketing consulting for various stage B2B startups. As a result, I’ve been granted insights into many different startup cultures ranging from the excellent to the mediocre to the occasionally crappy.

Even if you sell the most incredible product in the world, if your workplace culture isn’t great, you’re not doing it right. Since recently (finally) reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, I really agree with his perspective that a great company culture is essential.

To make your company culture great, your most important values must be lived by you and your team. After all, company mission statements are only as strong as how well they’re operationalized.

On this topic, I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend where well-meaning founders make the mistake of deciding to solve the “values/culture thing” by declaring that their startup is going to run “like a family,” especially during early stages. Here’s some thoughts on why “running your company like a family” is a really bad idea.

Saying you run your company “like a family” is extremely vague, and by doing this, you may create confusion among your team.

More often than not, when a CEO says to her team that she wants to run the company “like a family,” what she really means is that she wants to run the company according to her definition of how a family runs. After all, no two families are alike. How Jack the CEO’s family operates may be vastly different than how Jane the VP of Sales’ family functions. This leads to terrible and avoidable miscommunications.

Let’s say Jack the CEO calls his executives into a meeting and tells them that the company will now run “like a family” and that he expects leaders and their teams to act accordingly.

What if in Jack the CEO’s family, it’s common to call people out on their mistakes in public settings. After all, a little public shame is how people learn to correct their mistakes, right? So, without explicitly verbalizing any of these assumptions about what family means, Jack expects that when telling his executives to “run their teams like a family,” they’ll align with his understandings.

When Jane the VP of Sales heard Jack’s speech about “family,” she would have likely unconsciously applied it to her own understanding of family. Jane’s family does not behave like Jack’s family. Jane’s family only delivered criticism in private. People are praised in public, and given constructive criticism in private. Period.

When Jack the CEO sits in on Jane’s meeting with her Sales Development Reps (SDRs), one of the SDRs, Carl, reveals that he’s very behind on his numbers for the quarter. To Jack’s surprise, instead of tearing into him in front of the other SDRs, Jane centers the discussion around best practices and what everyone can work on as a team to improve processes. Jane plans to address Carl’s individual issues with him after the meeting in private and to review his performance improvement plan then. But Jack butts in, “Carl, why is everyone else outperforming you? Do you take this job seriously?” Jane goes beet red and after the meeting feels unsettled and confused. Why would Jack  undermine her authority in front of her team, and why he would blatantly go against their stated values? After all, wasn’t this company supposed to run like a family?

This is a pretty simplistic example, but you get the point. If you think a family should behave a certain way, chances are someone else disagrees. So don’t run your company “like a family”. State your explicit values instead.

Your experience of family is inherently subjective, but you likely won’t see it that way—and unchecked subjectivities are a big problem.

Perhaps in your family everyone was supportive, so you think running a company like a family means supporting each other. Great. But what if being supportive in your family also meant that while men in the family worked, women were expected to work only until they had children and then stay at home? So when your VP of Product comes to you announcing she’s going on maternity leave, will you treat her “like family”?

Some families are toxic, and you may unwittingly turn your company culture toxic if you run it like your family.

This is a point I’ve been intimating along the way in this post, but a lot of families are, simply put, dysfunctional and toxic. Maybe in your family you “just don’t talk about” the alcoholic gambling father in the family, so when the CEO’s personal problems start affecting his performance, or he does something unethical, it’s understood no one is to confront it lest they be breaking the family code. After all, you’re family! This is a really big problem and it’s surprisingly common in companies that run this way.

You can’t easily fire or lay off your family.

As Ben Horowitz shares in his book, as CEO or leader, you’re going to have to lay off people, many of whom are really, really great but who just aren’t the right fit anymore or because you personally failed them in some way. Depending on what stage you’re at in your company, it’s not a question of if this will happen—it’s a question of when. And running “like a family” will make it much harder for you and your executives to do this. Because it’s really hard to lay off “family”. Startups aren’t, and can’t be, families.

Better Alternatives Exist

On the surface, running your company like a family sounds like a nice, cozy idea. Family can be a source of a lot of joy and community for many people. But I’d argue that even if every single one of your employees right now consists of your actual family members, still don’t run it “like a family”! Instead, create company values that are specific and actionable. Some examples from leading companies:

  • Talk straight. (ServiceRocket)
  • Results first, substance over flash. (Rackspace)
  • Focus on the user and all else will follow. (Google)
  • Deliver WOW Through Service (Zappos)
  • Respect for the Individual (Accenture)
  • Move fast and break things. (Facebook)
  • Take work but not ourselves seriously. (Kappost)
  • Feel Free (Twitter)

Note that these values have nothing to do with “family” but may overlap with how some families operate.

Final Thoughts

I implore you, startup leaders: stop running your companies like a family. If you have that written somewhere in your mission statement or on your website, take it out right now–or at least be very specific about how you as a company actually define operating like a family. Instead, think about all of the good things you see in family and write those down as values that your company should embody.

Special thanks to Daniel Nelson, Founder of Food On A Truck, for his feedback in an early draft.

Three Of My Clients Got Acquired This Year, And Then One Of Them Acquired Me

For the past few years I’ve specialized in digital marketing consulting for B2B SaaS companies. I’ve really enjoyed helping my clients build out their marketing programs to reach their target markets. I’ve helped bootstrapped and VC-funded startups define their positioning, increase their brand awareness and thought leadership in their niche, and generate increased leads and sales. I’ve learned so much. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve also had the privilege of working with some phenomenal people and teams.

A Series of Client Acquisitions

One of my clients, a Google Ventures-backed veteran in the SEM space, famously shuttered this year. But most of my clients, I’m pleased to say, have wildly succeeded this year. Among this list of successes included three acquisitions: Learndot, a Customer Education platform for Customer Success business sold to ServiceRocket in January 2015; Taxify (part of ShipCompliant), a Boulder, CO-based B2B tax automation SaaS was acquired by Sovos Compliance in April; and, most recently, Frontleaf, a Customer Success analytics platform was acquired by Zuora in May to become their Z-Insights product line.

Joining ServiceRocket As Senior Manager of Growth Marketing

Hiking near Los Altos with ServiceRocket CEO Robert Castaneda and VP of Enterprise Ray Bradbury the day after joining the company.

Hiking near Los Altos with ServiceRocket CEO Robert Castaneda and VP of Enterprise Ray Bradbery the day after joining the company.

I had loved working with the Learndot team. I did some of the best work of my career at that point with founder Paul Lambert and the Learndot crew. One month after the Learndot acquisition (February 2015), ServiceRocket hired me to consult with them on a part-time basis to help promote Learndot, and we quickly ramped up to a full-time consulting engagement. In retrospect, my work with ServiceRocket was a bit like falling in love–slowly at first, but then all at once. I hadn’t realized it, but even before I was consulting with ServiceRocket full-time, I was thinking about them and our work together constantly, reflecting often on the amazing team with whom I was working and the really interesting and creative projects we were working on.

With the amazing ServiceRocket team at Gainsight's Pulse Conference 2015

With the amazing ServiceRocket team (and special guest SalesLoft) at Gainsight’s Pulse Conference 2015

I truly believe in ServiceRocket’s mission, leadership, values, and culture, driven by extraordinary CEO Robert Castaneda. ServiceRocket enables Customer Success for software companies and their enterprise customers through training, support and utilization. When ServiceRocket invited me to join the team as a full-time employee as Senior Manager of Growth Marketing, it was a dream come true. My work as a growth marketer is a fun and challenging blend of content, PR, social media, and demand generation, and is truly further extension of all of the work I’ve been doing in the Customer Success world all along. The team is led by VP of Marketing Colleen Blake, an award-winning Silicon Valley Woman of Influence and incredibly talented marketer and leader. I feel honored to work with and learn from her and the rest of the talented ServiceRocket team every day.

Final Thoughts

I’m so incredibly proud of my amazing clients who have “leveled up” in big ways this year, as well as the small but meaningful roles I got to play in their successes. I’m also prouder than I can express to be a full-time Rocketeer! I am still learning constantly every day, especially from leaders in our field who inspire me, and I look forward to continuing on that journey and creating valuable marketing experiences and content for ServiceRocket customers and the Customer Success industry. I plan to continue blogging here to share insights, news and ideas from the world of customer training, Customer Success and SaaS marketing. I hope you’ll stay connected and continue growing with me on this journey in the membership economy.

Thanks for reading. Sarah

Getting Ready For The Epicenter Of Customer Success: Gainsight’s Pulse Conference 2015

Tomorrow, I’m attending Gainsight’s Pulse Conference 2015 alongside team members from my amazing client, ServiceRocket, who are proud sponsors of the event. I’ve been watching the meteoric growth of Pulse these past few years, and am truly excited to be joining 2000+ other Customer Success enthusiasts and practitioners this year–the first time I’ll be in attendance. I’m excited to meet great people, learn a lot from the expert panels and sessions, and soak up all of the vibes and insights from the premier Customer Success event of the year.

In anticipation of Pulse, here are a few of the latest projects I’ve been working on in the Customer Success world:

The Ultimate Guide to Gainsight’s Pulse Conference 2015


I worked on this guide alongside others from the fantastic ServiceRocket team. It includes recommended speakers, panels, events, and even events to enjoy when you’re in town. I really recommend viewing and downloading if you’re coming to Pulse this year. Published on ServiceRocket website.

Convert Your Prospects Into Customers With Pre-Sales Training


Through introducing customer training into the pre-sales equation, CSMs can help seal the deal and sow the seeds of software adoption and customer loyalty. Here’s why it’s so smart to leverage training to help convert your prospects into customers, as well as some tips for getting started. Published on the Learndot blog.

How To Build Training Programs Your Customers Will Actually Use


To link your customer training to business outcomes and ultimately business return, you need to build training that your customers will actually use. To do this, you’ll need to create courses that are personalized to your customer personas with respect to delivery method, individual users’ professional growth, and ongoing feedback. Wherever your company is in the software training maturity model, you can get started building training your customers will directly benefit from and love to use. Published on the Learndot blog.

Named One of MindTouch’s Top 100 Customer Success Influencers To Meet at Pulse

Top 100 Customer Success Influencers at Pulse.

In other exciting news, MindTouch unexpectedly listed me as a ‘Top 100 Customer Success Influencer to Meet at Pulse Conference.’ I was surprised and honored by the mention, and look forward to connecting with others on the list as well as the uncounted numbers from incredible companies who deserve to be on here. Grab the PDF list of influencers on the MindTouch website.

Thanks so much for reading! If you’re at Pulse and want to meet up, tweet me at @SEBMarketing and say hi. As always, if you have any questions about the amazing companies or software mentioned here, please feel free to drop a line.