If you don’t think you need it, you haven’t seen greatness

One thing I can hear with some regularity from a small founding team is something like “we don’t think we need a marketing person” or “we’re not going to hire a product manager”. Those aren’t the only positions I hear that statement for. I hear it for PR, marketing, HR and sometimes BD.

What I think is going on here and what my guidance in general is, “if you don’t think you need a position and that position has a well-known title (like product manager, product marketer, etc), it’s far more likely that you’ve just never seen or worked with *greatness* at that position”.

I have my own example that I remember vividly. When I was co-founding Excite (how could that have been 19 years ago?), I knew we needed a lawyer. Being 21, I had my own visions of what a lawyer was and what they did. In my mind, a lawyer was someone who took a business situation, married that business understanding to a legal perspective to it and gave you a single course of action as a recommendation.

My first experience with a lawyer was very different. I worked with a very reputable firm but what I was getting was not a single recommendation, but rather a set of 3 or 4 options for every situation I presented. Not helpful. I felt like I was having to apply judgement in an area where (1) I had no knowledge or grounding and (2) what I wanted was to pay someone else for their expert judgement not throw options back at me.

I was really unhappy and thought that this just must be what lawyering was actually like instead of my fantasy view of what the field was about.

When we got funding from Kleiner Perkins, our partner Vinod Khosla recommended we switch to a different partner at the same firm. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference given my newly lowered expectations of what a lawyer did.

I was wrong. Our new partner, Mark Stevens, was exactly what I originally thought a lawyer should be and much more. He was a business partner first. He worked to deeply understand our business and then dispense legal advice. He was a tremendous negotiator. He thought well ahead of us in critical areas of IP, sales and BD.

In short, he opened my eyes to *greatness* at the position of legal counsel.

It made me wonder. How many other positions was I de-valuing because I hadn’t worked with someone who was amazing at their craft?

Product marketing was the next one to fall for me. Early in my career, I thought of product marketing as the person or function you brought in *at the end* of building a product to figure out how to position it, sell it, describe it, etc. Given who I was working with early on in my career, that just seemed like how it worked. Product Managers, Engineers and Designers worked together to gain insight. But, Product Marketers were there to put it into “non-nerd” language once the thing was mostly built.

About 4 years in, I met a fantastic product marketer who helped me realize that Product Marketing, done right, is actually a huge part of the design process. They taught me the exercise of ‘writing the ideal press release’ first, before you even write a line of code. They taught me some of the principles of picking one, max two, things you can describe about your product (and allowing the rest to be discovered).

In essence, they showed me greatness at the position and opened my eyes to how valuable the role is (in the right hands).

So, if you find yourself saying that you don’t need a {product manager, product marketer, pr person, marketing person, etc}, ask yourself the question first if you’ve ever seen greatness in that position before you really make that decision.

61 Comments

  1. Great post, Joe. It’s really nice to hear more attention given to these positions like marketing, product marketing or biz dev that have been thought unnecessary, or just have a bad rap in early stage startupland. [Full disclosure: I work with early stage startups as a part-time VP of Marketing]. I find that tech-inclined people have a hard time gauging “greatness” in marketers or product marketing, the same way non-tech folks have a hard time telling who’s a “great developer” and who’s not. For startup folks who want to follow your advice, I’d say start slowly, reach out, ask questions and build a relationship, so you’ll not only get smarter and one step more fluent on the marketing front, you’ll get to witness greatness along the way.

  2. Working on a product as well. Really Hit me how important product marketing was after launching last week. Way more important than SEO. THanks for writing.

  3. [...] Link: Joe Kraus Blog. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLinkedInPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  4. Seyi Taylor says:

    Here’s where I find myself – I know I need it, but I haven’t seen greatness yet. As an entrepreneur, I find myself wondering about finding that person who has the same level of expertise with product marketing/sales/”business stuff” as I do with design or my team has with coding.

    This is a fantastic post.

  5. [...] you love, this awesome Quora thread on how Apple keeps secrets, these posts by Joe Kraus on “seeing greatness” and the culture of distraction we’re creating (most of these stemmed from McKenna [...]

  6. Shelley says:

    I don’t know if “greatness” is the right word, but I see your point.

  7. Andrew Ssempala Ssengendo says:

    Hello Joe,
    This is Andrew Ssempala Ssengendo in Uganda, East Africa.
    I am trying to develop a website called momentsintime.net and I hope to give the viewers information, entertainment and education-all in one. The series number in the thousands on a range of topics from all the areas of academic and non-academic life.
    I have done some samples of the work that can be seen to see what it’s all about. All I need is a financial partner to gt going. I guarantee it will be one of the biggest websites in the world in just a year.
    Pliz accept the gauntlet and help me get started. I shall be communicating again when you’ve been kind enough to reply this comment.

    Andrew S. Ssengendo

  8. Joshua Hetzler says:

    I have an invention to share with Google, but I do not know who to tell about it. I called the local office to see if they could point me in the right direction to no avail. My invention relies heavily on technology that Google already uses and without Google’s support this invention may never get off the ground. I would create this device myself, but you already have everything that is required. All Google has to do is connect the dots and a device that could ultimately be used by everyone would be created. Instead of wasting my time telling you all about it and someone else running off with my idea please have someone contact me who would hear me out, or someone please point me in the right direction. Google should have a page where inventors or dreamers can go and share their ideas and gain credit for thinking about them without fearing that someone else with the right connections would come along and bring their idea to fruition. Great ideas for inventions are thought of everyday, but many of them never come to pass. I believe that my idea can make Google a lot of money, and make the world a safer place. I hope this post reaches someone who cares.

  9. [...] bạn vẫn nghĩ không cần phải có bộ phận marketing? Vậy thì đúng như Joe Krau nói, Chỉ là bởi vì bạn chưa biết sự tuyệt vời của nó mà thôi” VN:F [...]

  10. karino says:

    Welcome to our ( http://www.facebooky8.com )

    We’re the best online games website Featuring the most powerful and best flash games Online play now

  11. tumblr says:

    Hello to every one, as I am truly eager of reading this web
    site’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It contains pleasant stuff.

  12. Alex Miller says:

    Great post Joe! I’ve worked with some great people in a variety of positions, and many many more who were not so great. Once a *Great* joins your team, everyone can learn from them and become a little better at this new person’s discipline now that they too have seen greatness, and that makes the Greats all the more valuable!

  13. sales mph says:

    Hey, you used to write wonderful, but the last few posts have been kinda boring� I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a bit out of track! come on!

  14. You will find clearly a lot of money have an understanding of this. I suppose you’ve made specific nice details in features as well.

  15. […] If you don’t think you need it, you haven’t seen greatness […]

  16. John Locke says:

    Wow, thanks for writing this. Joe. Too often we hire based on our preconceptions of what that position should look like. When we do that, we close our eyes to the possibility of having something even greater- a business partner who wants to see us succeed as much as we want to see ourselves succeed.

  17. Welches ist das beste Forex Broker für Sie? Informieren Sie sich hier.
    Nehmen Sie ein paar Sekunden und einfach vergleichen mehrere besten bewerteten Dienstleistungen

  18. […] De hecho, si crees que hay algún puesto en su empresa donde esta regla de “mejor que 10 x” no se sostiene, tienes nunca trabajó con grandeza en esa posición . […]

  19. […] In fact, if you think there’s any position at your company where this rule of “better than 10x” doesn’t hold, you’ve never worked with greatness at that position. […]

  20. TrailCamGuy says:

    Yes, most lawyers are not very helpful in trying to run a business. Lawyers just want to generate billable hours.

    Instead of using lawyers for our business, we have used resources on-line with a DIY approach.

  21. It is in reality a nice and useful piece of
    info. I’m glad that you just shared this useful information with
    us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Johnf99 says:

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me &amp my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely out there. ceakbkdcddbk

  23. cover says:

    Hello to all, how is all, I think every one is getting more feom this website, and your views aare good in favor
    of new viewers.

  24. German says:

    Hey this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know
    if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get advice from someone
    with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  25. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the
    layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you
    modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a
    nice blog like this one today.

  26. If some one wants expert view concerning running a blog afterward i propose him/her
    to pay a quick visit this webpage, Keep up the good
    job.

  27. Jame says:

    Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform
    are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress
    because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  28. This piece of writing is genuinely a pleasant one it helps new internet viewers,
    who are wishing for blogging.

  29. miesnie says:

    Howdy I am so thrilled I found your webpage,
    I really found you by error, while I was
    browsing on Digg for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a marvelous post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love
    the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment
    but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the excellent job.

  30. What’s up everyone, it’s my first pay a visit at this web page,
    and piece of writing is actually fruitful designed for me, keep up posting these posts.

  31. trening says:

    Quality posts is the main to invite the visitors to visit the web page, that’s what this website is providing.

  32. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I
    could add to my blog that automatically tweet
    my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.
    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly
    enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  33. Automobile Components Putting A Auto Back Collectively Again

    my web blog; we buy cars san diego

  34. Ed McCahill says:

    Great post, Joe! Very refreshing to read. Greatness at anything is a wonder to behold. Working alongside extremely talented people as you describe takes our work to a different level. One point I will add is that some of the truly great we’ve worked with are also those with whom we have the best chemistry, as you had with Mark Stevens.

  35. live model says:

    in that particular aspect, you must be tremendously ideal to all of
    the sectors that are related to running just one commercial enterprise.
    Let your personality shine through If there’s something I have learned about
    pro models, they’re definitely not shy. With a 50cm waist
    and 81cm hips, Ioana Spangenberg’s hourglass figure has made her famous over night after
    pictures of her incredible 20-inch waist began to circulate the Internet and also
    caused a lot of controversy.

  36. Undeniably imagine that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be at the internet the easiest factor
    to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed at the same
    time as other folks consider issues that they plainly don’t realize
    about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top and also outlined out
    the entire thing with no need side effect , other folks can take a signal.

    Will likely be back to get more. Thank you

  37. Hello it’s me, I am also visiting this web site regularly, this web
    page is truly good and the viewers are in fact sharing nice
    thoughts.

  38. ansiosos says:

    Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out.
    Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks a lot

  39. Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you be acquainted with after that you can write or else it is difficult to write.

  40. A2Z Health says:

    Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you
    happen to be a great author.I will make sure
    to bookmark your blog and will come back in the foreseeable
    future. I want to encourage that you continue your great posts, have a nice morning!

    Here is my web page; A2Z Health

  41. Greetings! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know
    how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a temkplate or plugin that might
    be able to resolve this issue. If you have anny recommendations, please share.
    Cheers!

    Visit my web blog … best salon in bradenton fl

  42. Unquestionably consider that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be
    at the net the easiest factor to understand of. I say to
    you, I certainly get irked at the same time as other people think about concerns that they plainly do not recognize about.
    You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest as smartly as outlined out the whole thing with no need side effect , folks could take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thank you

  43. See, first I catch her attention with my subject line then I turn it into something humorous
    at the beginning of my email. Any bit of news can be used for
    this type of article, but when you submit articles, they need
    to have a news slant. The term “Handloom” refers to
    a specific keyword which refers to any work done by
    hand.

  44. whoah this weblog is wonderful i love studying your posts.
    Stay up the good work! You already know, many persons are looking around for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  45. Youtu.Be says:

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog.
    I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well.
    In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my
    own, personal website now ;)

    Look into my website; Youtu.Be

  46. Asking questions are genuinely good thing if you are not understanding
    anything entirely, but this article gives pleasant understanding yet.

  47. Hi all, here every one is sharing such experience, therefore it’s fastidious to
    read this blog, and I used to pay a quick visit this website
    daily.

  48. I don’t know if there is currently one for the PCC
    but it’s worth a look. This is a business trick to achieve more sales
    and popularity and thereby more profit. Families can invest
    some great fun time together even though looking for their favorite costumes.

  49. Modesta says:

    Yo ya empleé el cupón y marcha perfectamente, y lo hará todo este año 2012, esto es
    el código promocional de Hostgator para abonar 1 centavo estará disponible para los meses de Agosto, Septiembre,
    Octubre, Noviembre y Diciembre de 2012. Debes de ingresar tus
    datos exactos y verdaderos, en tanto que después te piden que compruebes
    tu cuenta con un documento de identidad, esto para eludir
    fraudes, pero no te preocupes puedes puesto que Hostagtor es
    una empresa confiable que ha estado durante años en el mercado.

  50. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a
    very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.

    I will definitely comeback.

  51. Electrician says:

    The first step to hiring someone good is to hire an electrician phoenix, you have to replace older wiring in your
    home. According to the facility, he is known to somebody through electrical repair firsthand
    experience rather than selecting an unknown. Obviously the first thing that you
    should realize before it is possible to always call your community councilman, electrical repair mayor, state
    or federal consultant. This tool is equipped with a variety of
    lighting options for your home safety.

  52. Sí, poseemos una guía a fin de que me siguiera para adquirir este producto llamada este producto pack AHORRO cartuchos de tinta reciclado
    negro y color compatible con HP trescientos cincuenta XL CB336EE & HP 351 XL CB338EE.

  53. Amie says:

    It’s actually a great and useful piece of information.
    I’m happy that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  54. If some one needs to be updated with newest technologies then he
    must be pay a visit this website and be up to date all the time.

  55. Tɦis іs reall іnteresting, Үou are a νery skilled blogger.
    Ι’ve joined ʏour rss feed and look forward tߋ seeking more
    of youг excellent post. Αlso, I haνе shared yoսr web
    site in mу social networks!

    mу weblog … buy instagram followers (http://enews.fergananews.com)

  56. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely
    neatly written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your helpful info.
    Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

  57. LED Hut says:

    This article will help the internet visitors for creating new website or even a weblog from start to end.

  58. […] read quite a few blog posts over the years.  One of the very best though is this one from Joe Kraus, founder and CEO of Excite — “If You Don’t Think You Need It […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>