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CMO Confessions Ep. 27: Sarah Kennedy of Adobe Marketo

October 15th, 2019 Joe Hyland

Hello again and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions, our B2B sales and marketing podcast that examines what real leadership looks like in marketing and sales organizations today.

This week we have Sarah Kennedy, Vice President at Adobe and former CMO of Marketo, an Adobe Company. Sarah has a fascinating story to tell about how she came to be CMO at Marketo and that her team navigated one of the biggest acquisitions in the martech world.

What do we discuss in this episode? Well, oddly enough, Jaime Foxx, the importance of keeping teams on track, why you should always, always be on finance’s good side and how teams can stay scrappy and agile even after being acquired by a large enterprise. It’s a great episode and we’re thrilled to have had Sarah on.

As always, we provide an edited transcript for you to scan below.

Check out what else Sarah has to say on her Twitter profile here and on her LinkedIn profile here.

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Table of Contents:

How was the first year since Adobe acquired Marketo?
Staying dynamic, scrappy and agile in a large enterprise
Instilling incredible efficiency and financial discipline
Get more out of every dollar spent on marketing
Marketers need to get a seat at the financial table through trust
What Sarah Kennedy loves about marketing
What drives Sarah Kennedy insane about marketing
How Sarah became a young CMO
Sarah’s interview with Jamie Foxx

Transcript

Joe Hyland:        

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24, and joining me this week from the Greater Denver area is Sarah Kennedy, Vice President of Global Marketing at Marketo Digital Experience, Adobe. That was a tongue twister at the end.

Sarah Kennedy:        

That’s a long title. It’s a little cleaner these days; it’s just Vice President at Adobe these days.

Joe Hyland:        

That’s cleaner. Okay. That is also some good marketing. Sarah, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Sure, thanks for having me, Joe. I appreciate it.

HOW WAS THE FIRST YEAR SINCE ADOBE ACQUIRED MARKETO?

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, of course. I think most of our listeners recognize that you were at Marketo — hence the long title that I had and you guys were acquired by Adobe. So, how is that going?

Sarah Kennedy:        

It’s great. It’s actually, oh my gosh, it’s almost been a full year.

Joe Hyland:        

Has it been that long? That’s crazy.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Not quite, but it’s about to be the year anniversary, I think it was, in November. So we are now fully a part of the team and now saying words like we instead of they, which is a good thing, but it’s been incredible.

Sarah Kennedy:        

It has actually been a very, I would call it an exciting but also lovely place to land because it’s one of those companies where, you know, there was already this passion for marketing and Marketo was clearly that and had that as part of our DNA. So joining a company that was just as much, if not more so focused on the marketer and serving them well was quite a blessing in many ways. And for my team, I know it was even more energizing. I think it was the only company in the world I could have told them was going to be acquiring Marketo and my whole marketing team was pumped. It was an upgrade. In a sense.

So that’s been, it’s been quite a journey. We’ve had a lot of learnings along the way. That’s for sure. As businesses come together. You do. But it’s been awesome. Start to finish.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s super cool. And you’re right, I think Adobe’s kind of recognized for some great marketing. Not that Marketo was small, but everything’s relative. Right?

Sarah Kennedy:        

We felt big and then we got acquired by Adobe and it became very apparent that we were not very big.

STAYING DYNAMIC, SCRAPPY AND AGILE IN A LARGE ENTERPRISE

Joe Hyland:        

It’s crazy. Right. So, how have you, or talk about what it’s been like in terms of staying pretty dynamic or scrappy or agile at just such a large enterprise? Like how’s that going?

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah, that was part of the thing that my team got most excited about whenever we were being acquired was the openness, number one, to the team that was on the Adobe side to understanding how we work because Marketo’s marketing team — they’ve been incredibly efficient over many years and I inherited a team that was very good at what they did. And also in a world where we were owned by a private equity firm, we got a lot more efficient also while maintaining being good.

And any startup, which is still what Marketo essentially is if you compare it to Adobe I guess, or was, is going to be a lot leaner I think in scrappier at getting work done because you just over time, a larger company has more resources and you kind of build up almost this tolerance for working in a certain way and being well-resourced, which is amazing, like it’s an amazing problem to have in air quotes.

But it’s been quite awesome because the marketing team on that side, they’ve been starting to learn from our team. And just an example of that, like in creative and content production, the way that our team worked is it was by design, it had to be incredibly efficient but also producing really high-quality work in that context to support a very robust demand gen engine was a big challenge that we had to solve for at Marketo. And it’s something that Adobe has taken on and adapted a lot of what that team had done quite well to their model now. And I think that’s been great.

We’ve also learned on the flip side, a lot of the ways that Adobe has scaled actually up into the enterprise space. Like we were just in the early days of building out a demand gen engine that was sophisticated in terms of moving upmarket and also having a message resonated and even a product and portfolio that resonated end to end has been, it’s been a really cool thing. So we brought a lot of compliments to one another. And you know, you can think about Marketo’s been a bit of a scrappy beast in a good way. And I think Adobe’s been a beast at scale and a good way for, from a marketing point of view and bringing those things together is really, it’s created a very powerful dynamic and there are some really cool synergies that we’re still just now even scratching the surface of.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. That’s man, that must be really exciting to be a part of.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah. It’s fun. It’s hard, but it is fun.

INSTILLING INCREDIBLE EFFICIENCY AND FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. Yeah, I bet. So you referenced the team you inherited at Marketo and of course, Vista had bought Marketo and obviously sold them to Adobe. And you’ve been pretty open about responsible growth and you know, kind of what you guys were able to accomplish. But at the time, you know, it wasn’t a sure thing. Many marketers are focused on doing really, really big things, maybe not doing it in a cost-effective manner. So what was that like? Cause that’s a really interesting balance to strike and I think marketers can learn a lot from it.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah, it was actually eye-opening. So I came from a background, before Marketo, at a company called Sabre where, you know, it was an incredibly efficient organization just because of the financial discipline that that company had. And I learned, later on, it was kind of funny, so the CFO at Marketo actually had been the CFO at Sabre for many years, Mark Miller.

He was a man who put in so much discipline and rigor around how Sabre operated that I didn’t even realize, long after he was gone from Sabre, I was operating still kind of in this Mark Miller regime, and I like to call it that because I then went to Marketo and I got to work as his peer and his partner in a much closer way.

It was really cool to better understand how he was taking a company that had not been profitable for a few years and turning it into a profitable business. And in Silicon Valley, that’s actually quite rare. It was a cool journey to go on with him because we got to partner in making that happen. And even just teaching my team how proud they should be over their contribution to EBITDA and efficiency was a big part of our journey. And I think it’s made the Marketo marketing organization or the past Marketo marketing organization, everybody who was a part of that, I was so proud because we were proud of both doing great work as marketers and being absolutely focused on our customer as much as we possibly could and not skimping in that area but doing that through rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work while also paying maniacal attention to exactly every dollar that was spent and the return on investment we would get out of that. And that was a discipline that both Mark brought but also Vista brought to us as well.

GET MORE OUT OF EVERY DOLLAR SPENT ON MARKETING

Sarah Kennedy:

It’s been such a healthy way for my team now to walk into Adobe because we’ve got that mindset and that foundation. So this team is always looking for both ways to, you know, do bigger, better things and scale. But also how do we get more out of every dollar we spend and every dollar you spend on marketing, no matter if it’s on brand or awareness or if it’s on like true demand gen, it’s content syndication. Like everything is part of the demand engine and every dollar actually feeds that beast in some way, shape or form.

It’s up to us as marketers to find ways to thread that together and to represent that and to track that and then to optimize based on that. It was a cool journey to go on because actually everybody who stuck around at Marketo, and those who left too actually — it’s unfair to say if it’s a lot of people were really energized by that being kind of the new flavor of challenge that we took on in our journey as a part of Vista.

And I think everybody was really proud to walk away from what we, I think played a big role in accomplishing the valuation of the business in every part is based on, somewhat is based on EBITDA in addition to growth. And I think that’s been for me, I can point back to our team and say, look at what we were able to contribute in a very positive way by being just a healthier operating marketing engine and then still driving also incredible growth at the top line for the business.

MARKETERS NEED TO GET A SEAT AT THE FINANCIAL TABLE THROUGH TRUST

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I think that’s brilliant. I also love that you mentioned EBITDA a few times in there just because so many marketers don’t want to even if they don’t want to get that close to the operating side of the business. They don’t want to think about — this is the creative branch, right? Like this is where brilliant thoughts come from. Like, different business leaders, the finance department can think about profitability and if marketers want to be taken seriously, they need to speak the language [Amen – Sarah] and the lingo that you just had, like you are right. Like we’re marketers are not just the make-it -pretty department, but if you act that way, you won’t have a seat at the table.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah. You have to have the CFO trust you. And that’s the thing, that’s been the most, I just love we’re kind of like the moteliest crew whenever it’s the CMO and the CFO get together, but that’s actually the that was the person I spent the most time within my time at Marketo and now also actually it’s true at Adobe as well. I’m spending more time with finance than any other team and that may be wrong, but for me, it’s been really important because getting close to the numbers and getting close to the details of the business, the foundational context that I can then operate and make decisions within.

It just makes it easier for you to go back and say, “Hey, if something in a given quarter or month isn’t going perfectly or you just need more juice or you think you can get more out of doing this, X versus Y,” it just makes it so much easier for them to trust you and to activate those dollars quickly instead of meeting three or four meetings to review, review, review. I think it’s a direct correlation in terms of how much finance trusts marketing in terms of how many review meetings you have to go through to get incremental dollars approved to spend.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, you’re right. Time to dollars being unlocked. Well, you know, you said trust there, right? Like I think so, again this goes back to a lot of marketers I think being reluctant to kind of open up the Kimono and have full transparency because not everything works. And I’ve been in so many presentations, and I try to not be in them now cause I’m responsible for it, but so many presentations where you’re saying everything worked just great. Every campaign we ran worked, we exceeded all of our targets. And that’s not believable. That’s not credible. If you do that, it becomes a kind of a lockbox. And then finance or other organizations don’t really trust marketing and you’re in a conundrum.

Sarah Kennedy:        

And that’s just been, trust for me is big. And I do think that us building that, across every team for sure, and I think that’s actually been a learning at Adobe is there are so many more stakeholders that have a “GM like hat” on and a seat at the table that run the digital experience business for Adobe, that’s actually quite refreshing cause everyone comes to the table with that mindset. But everyone’s also focused on a narrower area of responsibility with broader impact.

It’s an interesting and different dynamic than obviously, Marketo was. It’s like we had fewer leaders with broad responsibility across many different disciplines and I think everybody at Adobe actually comes in with that same mindset. But I think having a cohesive approach to how we build trust with one another, that’s all with the same foundation and it’s with financial discipline and operating a healthy business in mind is it’s really, it’s a great way to just start from a baseline of commonality.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. That’s fantastic. All right, let’s switch gears a little bit and I want to hear things that you’re super passionate about. Like, what do you love about marketing today?

WHAT SARAH KENNEDY LOVES ABOUT MARKETING

Sarah Kennedy:        

Oh Gosh. It’s hard. So my job actually has evolved so going from, you know, the CMO of Marketo and then coming into Adobe, my job is, even as I just described, it’s now, it’s now broader in terms of the impact. And I’ve got a team that’s three times the size as the one I had at Marketo. But the areas of responsibility are fewer because we have an amazing corporate marketing engine, that Ann Lewnes, runs and it supports all of our creative and content and communications needs and PR and social, etc. And they do great work across the board, but it’s reduced the scope of responsibilities where I focus; I’m focused solely on just (to get air quotes), the demand gen engine which is an important thing.

Joe Hyland:        

That’s easy stuff, right?

Sarah Kennedy:        

The growth engine. Yeah. And we’ve actually, it’s been the first time Adobe, maybe not the first time actually, I’m probably misspeaking there. In the last couple of years, let’s say it’s been the first time that we brought together sales development and marketing. I’ve got both of those under my remit right now. But the one thing that hasn’t changed about what I’m passionate about is, and this is gonna sound cheesy, but I mean it sincerely and I’ll describe that. But like my customers, I get really passionate about because I’m fortunate enough to market, still at Adobe now even on a broader scale, to marketers in many respects. And certainly, now I’m serving a broader base of customers in IT with the CIO being a critical partner to the CMO. I still get so passionate about thinking about how do we unlock more value and being career catalysts for marketers is a really cool reason to get out of bed in the morning for me.

And I swear to you, like every time I get in front of our, we have what we call the Marketo champions that are now evolving to become a broader part of the advocate community for Adobe. They are our strongest supporters and the most tenured you know, well versed Marketo in a sense that could actually run circles around even all of us in my own marketing team with their knowledge of Marketo. But we hosted them actually recently at Adobe’s headquarters for the first time in a forum, and I just get emotional in a way that’s just so mom-like, and it’s like ridiculously not professional, but I just, the way that they that they pour their time, energy and effort into our business in a very altruistic way, I feel like because they’re there, they’re a part of a community that is there to help each other because somebody else before in their own career helped them. And that’s why a lot of them say they participate in this is because they’re kind of paying it forward in a sense.

And I get really nerdy and passionate when I talk about them because they’ve been the answer to every hard question I had in my first CMO gig at Marketo. I had a hard first, really three to six months and didn’t spend a lot of time with them cause I was just getting my feet under me, didn’t understand really what the community was all about and how passionate that group was.

As soon as I started spending more time with them and actually got to meet them at Marketing Nation Summit they became one of the most powerful sources of insight for me that have both fueled our team’s energy and the kind of “why we get out of bed in the morning.” But also you know, they’ve been such a great source of insight for how we answer the questions that are the hardest questions that we’re trying to solve for as marketers. Just because they’re doing the same thing in their job day to day. And so doing that for them and then figuring out how do we help accelerate their careers and then connect even with their bosses in a powerful way that can be, again, a career accelerant has been a really cool part of my journey.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, that’s amazing. I love that. Great marketing is always about them. It’s never about you. Many organizations get that confused, right? And you just learn so much from your customers and it also makes for easy marketing. I mean, if you have…

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah, it does. It makes my job easier.

Joe Hyland:        

Right? Yeah. You know, advocates are, as you guys call marketing nation that just makes marketing what you do a little bit easier, which is, you’ll take.

Sarah Kennedy:        

For sure. I will.

WHAT DRIVES SARAH KENNEDY INSANE ABOUT MARKETING?

Joe Hyland:        

Okay. all right. That was all super positive and, and I don’t think it was corny at all. So let’s flip it over though. What drives you insane? Like there’s a lot about B2B marketing today that gets under my skin and I think kind of drives a lot of people crazy. Give me one or two items for you.

Sarah Kennedy:        

So it’s probably not even specific to B2B, but it might be, and it’s actually unfair for me to even say that it’s not because I’ve really only lived in the world of B2B marketing up until joining Adobe even. I increasingly am surprised by the lack of just in some pockets of marketing, like, we touched on it earlier, like shying away from accountability — and people are well-intentioned. It actually is not, you know, because people are trying to shy away from it. I think it’s almost like there’s a lack of awareness when it’s happening that maybe people misinterpret what marketing actually is in 2019 and 2020.

So I view marketing so much more increasingly as an operational and again, it’s a growth driver and it’s an operational discipline in many respects. There is absolutely a critical need for creativity and having the art come together, but with a heavy, heavy emphasis on the science and having the balance of the two things and that they always have to do with one another. They’re never separate and independent.

I think bringing those things together, I see such a lack of that in some pockets of marketing that I’m surprised cause it’s just not an — and I don’t, by the way, I don’t suppose to be the one to know it all or assume that I have all the answers, but I just, I get, I’m surprised because I feel like why go to work every day if you don’t want to be the one who’s like leaning into raising your hand to be the one to be accountable for something. And I think that that fulfills me and my team, I know every day in our jobs is to do even more of that. I just get disappointed if I don’t see that across the board in marketing sometimes.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I agree. I also think in business — that’s just so well respected and received, meaning I think other organizations, other individuals when they see someone step up and say, “I’ll own that and I’ll sign up for that, I’ll own pipeline,” you know, that’s okay, let’s put together a plan and work on it together. And if you don’t hit all your goals, that’s okay. I just think you’ve just got to be striving for progress. And yeah, I think you’re right. I think a lot of marketers, there’s probably no mal-intent, but trying to fly below the radar or shying away from it is I think, kind of missing the point.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah. And I think it also reminds me of the other thing that is the biggest pet peeve. Well, there’s two more, actually. I’ll be introspective on it a little bit.

But I think just, you’ve mentioned this earlier a little bit too, but just rose-colored glasses. I cannot handle it. My team knows this, but if I ever get anything that feels like an excuse train, not understanding the why and I want to deeply and intimately be able to go through, it’s okay when the answer is not great or what we hoped for. The bigger problem is if we pretend that it is still okay or we present what is a lack of urgency around and a lack of awareness around knowing when it’s wrong and knowing when it needs to be better or needs to be different.

My own, this is like me talking about my own team and I will fall into this trap too because I have to just, we have to catch ourselves because but I always take on the ear and the eyes of my peers that I’m presenting to when I hear from my team what they’re presenting to me and I want to be, and I’m probably harder on my team than I should be in some respects here. But I do not like, I do not like the overly optimistic view of the world. Not that we shouldn’t be optimistic and positive, but marketing takes some punches and that’s part of our job. And we’ve got to be more focused on explaining the why and really deeply, intimately understanding the explanation behind how we got to X and Y so we can change it to get to Z. And that’s, that’s a big focus for my team.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And being introspective. Right. Get going back to what I think other people respect is, listen, we don’t have all the answers, not every hypothesis will turn out to be correct. Just own it and say, “Hey, we had this theory. Here’s what happened here with the good things. This didn’t work. We’re analyzing why. ” Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore.

And you mentioned the data as well. That’s another area. It’s like, we know platforms like Marketo very much help with this. We have so much data at our fingertips. So just saying things like, “I think that subject line should work.” It’s like, well, have you AB tested this? Or like, what kind of data do you have to show, look at, let’s look at open rates, let’s look at engagement or conversion. I don’t know.

know it’s just such an amazing time to be in marketing, but you always run the risk of becoming a little bit antiquated, right? So I think marketers have to lean into the data even if it’s not necessarily natural for them.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Absolutely. And I think that was actually my third pet peeve is when I can’t get access to data. If you asked my team what they would probably say is their pet peeve about me, it’s how much access I want to have to data and I’ve done all those like personality tests, whenever I’m under stress, apparently I move from, I’m a red personality, surprise, surprise, but I move red into green, which is super analytical.

So when things aren’t going right or whatever, I’ll nose dive to way too deep of a level into data. And when I can’t get access to it, it drives me up the wall. So I’m learning a new organization now and there’s actually, Adobe has, Marketo actually we had a ton of data in marketing and it was easy to get access to that. And so I never really had a challenge there, but in a bigger company, there’s actually more data at Adobe than I could have ever imagined. It’s just figuring out which data to dig into and probably also not do it myself. It’s my, again, my team would probably say that’s their pet peeve about me.

HOW SARAH BECAME A YOUNG CMO

Joe Hyland:        

I like this. This is a very honest assessment. Okay. You talked about Sabre earlier and I think your career growth is interesting because on the one hand, I think it would be natural to say, wow, you became a CMO so young. And I was fortunate as well. I got my first head of marketing job around 32 or 33. So similar for me. But I get the question a lot around career planning and you know, should you move jobs every 18 months to two years and that’s how you get growth. You really hunkered into one company and it seemed like did everything under the sun for marketing. Can you talk about that?

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah, it was a surprise to me as well. I remember, so I started actually in the ad agency world before I went back to grad school. And then in grad school, I had a professor who really encouraged me to go try. He had said to me I’ve shared before that he’d said to me that I was meant for working in a large corporation and he just wanted to see me go try. And I was like, that might be an insult, like, I don’t know and I trusted him so much, it’s Professor Hazzard at UT in Dallas and he was so great. But I trusted him and I certainly trusted his judgment and it’s how I ended up at Sabre in an internship.

And I remember thinking probably in a typical, I’m an older millennial, but I’m still a millennial and I remember typical millennial fashion, I was like, “Oh, I’ll probably be here for like two years maybe you know.” But I fell in love with Sabre during my internship because it was the pinnacle of complexity in a good way. It’s like the entire engine behind the travel industry.

So it’s like the cool behind the scenes, impossible problems behind one of the coolest industries in the world. It’s hard to not be passionate about travel. That was a really neat place for me to land and to be able to start learning B2B because it’s almost an entirely B2B business in many respects.

So I got to dive into what was a very traditional part of the business and it’s been like the cash cow of the business and learn it from the ground up and learn the whole inner workings of that industry before I was then stepping into more front-facing marketing roles. And I got, after the second year, I think it flew by so fast and the company was so diverse in terms of how many different types of audiences it served.

So one business unit was focused on aviation and other was focused on hospitality another was focused on online travel companies like Expedias of the world. And it was such a diverse set of audiences that I got to kind of dabble in all of those. And every job felt like a completely different challenge and almost like a different company just with the same culture and the same core set of values. That was a really cool place for me to be able to stretch and grow. And also when I came in the door, there weren’t a whole lot of millennials working there and it became a catalyst for, they were very open to my ideas and I was empowered because I just came in with a different point of view to start to stretch what I could bring to that business.

I was always really inspired by working there. But then I ended up in my last job as the CMO of the hospitality business unit. And that was incredible cause I got to serve all of the CMOs of some of the most discerning B2C brands in the world who were buying our technology as their underpinning to their entire guest experience and their commerce play.

That was really a cool learning ground for me because it was also a business unit that was similar in growth to what Marketo was doing. Whenever I made that jump, it made that transition a lot easier because I had a really strong foundation that I had learned at Sabre and then was able to take that and apply that in completely different business and in many different industries, which was the really neat new thing for me in that role. But I had done it and I came in confident with a very strong foundation that I had gotten there. It was like year 10 and I was still enjoying my time there. But I was like, “Oh my gosh, no one’s going to think I’m ever going to leave here if I don’t push myself out of the nest.” I spent about a year just kind of thinking through what that might look like next. And then my absolute dream job came along at Marketo and I could not say no.

Joe Hyland:        

That is so cool. And I’m noticing a trend line which is growth, right? So you, you really focused on growth at Sabre. That was the name of the game at Marketo, particularly when their PE-backed and look what you’re doing now.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah. And it’s a whole new world too ’cause Adobe’s just now I feel like it’s funny because Adobe’s been in the business of enterprise software for many, many years and having an experience platform has been at the core of their strategy. But I think we all agree we’re just barely scratching the surface of what’s possible at Adobe to serve the needs of the marketer and the CIO and everybody across the spectrum that are trying to actually have an influence on their own customers’ experience in a powerful new way.

And the series of acquisitions that have come together over the years with a lot of diverse viewpoints and people who actually come from high-growth entrepreneurial backgrounds that have come together to form this business unit. And it’s a very large business unit. Now we’re all figuring out how do we help our customers scale and create these incredibly compelling experiences at the same time we’re doing that in our own business. It’s kind of this very meta, a value proposition that we have going on right now on both fronts. But it’s a really cool challenge to be a part of.

SARAH’S INTERVIEW WITH JAMIE FOXX

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, that is so exciting. Okay. I have one final question, which is, what was it like interviewing Jamie Foxx on stage in front of 5,000 people? Cause I was there. I was there. I purposely not brought this up with you yet. That was an unbelievable interview for anyone who didn’t see it. He was, he was running across the stage at one point. He, Jamie, was stretching his hip flexors in front of Sarah. I don’t know why? You rolled with it.

Sarah Kennedy:        

And I can’t explain to you like I had a view nobody else did.

Joe Hyland:        

Yes, it’s true. That is true.

Sarah Kennedy:        

It was honestly, there were a whole lot of horrifying moments of Summit for me because I had never been in front of an audience that big. And I had so many other components of that, our whole board of directors was sitting in the front row. And the thing that scared me most was interviewing Jamie Foxx. I was completely freaked out and cause Steve and I had gone back and forth.

We actually hadn’t decided until two days before who was going to interview whom and we, I was originally to interview Lindsay Bond. And we decided at the last minute we were like, no, we’re going to flip it. And because I’m from Texas and I was like, I know Jamie Foxx. Like I actually have watched him for so many years, have been such a fan of him growing up.

And I know Steve, feels the same way about Lindsay Bond, I was like we just need to go with like where we have passion. But then, so I met him behind the stage and we were like randomly wearing almost the same thing, which was kind of funny. We were Twinkies. So that worked out well. And then when he got on stage and he started sprinting, it was, I didn’t know what to do ’cause I was so nervous and I had actually prepared for this more than my keynote, more than my opener like everything, I was prepared for that because I was so nervous at how it would go.

And of course he just, the lid comes off immediately and he is sprinting across a hundred-yard stage and singing and stretching and doing whatever. And it threw me off totally because he then just sat down in the wrong chair and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m in the wrong chair. I can’t see my monitor. I don’t know what questions I was supposed to ask.” Yes, my monitor was like, it was turned perfectly for the other chair. And I’m  trying to squint and see and I’m just going, “Oh my God.” I was like, “Thank goodness I have note cards but I don’t like looking at note cards cause then I’m not paying attention!” I got lucky ’cause he was so gracious and he was a great interviewee and it was stressful though. I will say that. But, he was so great.

Joe Hyland:        

It was epic. I thought it was a phenomenal interview. You did a great job of that whole event, it was a great Summit. But that interview for me capped the whole event. I was sitting in the audience with my wife and two minutes into the interview she turned to me and said, this is going to be interesting. It was like, how do you control such a big personality and you kept it on topic. You were incredibly flexible ’cause you had no choice but you could have been rigid and that could’ve gone very badly. So I think there’s a lot of lessons in there.

Sarah Kennedy:        

It was funny, I did for him being unpredictable and I was like, guys, what do I do with my hands? Like, where do I stand if he just decided to go do something else? I’m like, what do I, I don’t know what to do when it was it was great. My team was fantastic at preparing and we did deep, deep research on him, but he’s such a dynamic talent and he was so gracious. He was the best pick that we probably could have made just to make that a fun, fun way to cap things off. So it’s great that you were there to see it in person.

Joe Hyland:        

Life’s about experiences, right? So that was one hell of one.

Sarah Kennedy:        

That was a bucket list moment for sure.

Joe Hyland:        

So cool. Well listen, Sarah, thank you so much. This has been great. We’ve used up a perfectly good half an hour. I think people will really like this. And again, thank you for all the time.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Awesome. Thanks, Joe for having me. I appreciate it.